Forest Science and Health

USDA calls for citizen cooperation in gypsy moth prevention

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is requesting citizens that inspect their outdoor household items for gypsy moths before moving to a new area. The requirement to check lawn furniture, yard equipment, and outdoor toys is part of a larger effort to stop the spread of gypsy moths.

Study about Historical Fire Records Can Inform Forest Management Decisions

University of Missouri researchers have studied tree rings in Oklahoma and Tennessee to determine the areas’ history of fires. Understanding how fire has maintained forest ecosystems in the past makes it possible to determine the best ways to use fire to maintain those forests in the future.

Michael Stambaugh, the study’s lead author, says “the history of fire in America also is the history of humans on this continent. … [E]verywhere we see humans move, we see fires follow or be altered.”

Colorado Battling Tussock Moth

In Colorado, black-tusked tussock moths have spread across 25,000 acres in the last year from the 2014 infested area of 1,000 acres. The moth’s caterpillars are rapidly defoliating fir trees along Colorado’s Front Range, raising concerns for wildfire, recreation and tourism, and water supplies. Defoliated trees pose elevated wildfire risks and invite other pests, such as mountain pine beetles and western spruce budworm.

USDA Surveying for Asian Gypsy Moths in South Carolina

The USDA has reported a discovery of the invasive Asian gypsy moth (AGM) in each of the last two summers in South Carolina. The USDA policy is to conduct three years of surveys following each discovery. These surveys entail setting hundreds of triangular, cardboard traps, which contain a slow-release pheromone that attracts the moths.

Record 66 Million Trees Dead in Southern Sierra Nevada

The U.S. Forest Service announced that it has identified an additional 26 million trees dead in California since October 2015. These trees are located in six counties across 760,000 acres in the southern Sierra Nevada region of the state, and are in addition to the 40 million trees that died statewide from 2010 to October 2015, bringing the total to at least 66 million dead trees. Four consecutive years of severe drought in California, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and warmer temperatures are leading to historic levels of tree die-off.

Northeast Peach Crop Damaged by Cold

Low temperatures in February and March decimated the Northeast’s 2016 peach crop. It is estimated that the peach harvest in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York’s Hudson Valley will be down 90% from recent averages. Similarly, New Jersey lost about 40% of its crop from the southern region, and 10% of its crop from the northern region.

Whereas crops further north were damaged by sub-zero temperatures in mid-February, crops further south in the region were damaged by temperatures in the teens while the trees were in full bloom at the end of March.

Southern Pine Beetle Outbreaks Cause Concern in Georgia

The Georgia Forestry Commission has been closely monitoring 46 outbreaks of southern pine beetle in the south of the state. The outbreaks are small, yet alarming. The Forestry Commission says there hasn’t been an outbreak of southern pine beetle cases in the last 20 years.

Sudden Oak Death Threatens Oregon’s Economy

Sudden oak death (SOD), first discovered in southwestern Oregon in 2001, is a forest disease caused by the invasive plant pathogen Phytophthora ramorum. It infects and kills tanoaks and causes twig and foliar diseases in over 120 other species. The disease spreads following wet periods via spore dispersal.

Tree Mortality Poses Wildfire Threat in Pacific Northwest

The impacts of the last three years of drought are finally manifesting themselves throughout the Pacific Northwest. Douglas firs have been affected the most, dying off and peppering the landscape with burnt-orange needles. The die-offs come despite a rather wet winter, as recent drought and associated beetle infestations stressed the trees. In certain areas, cold, dry east winds from last winter froze the foliage of many coniferous trees, leaving trees green on one side and orange on the other.

Emerald Ash Borer Detected in Nebraska

On Wednesday, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture announced that the emerald ash borer (EAB) had been found earlier in the week in southeast Omaha. This is the first official confirmation of EAB in the Nebraska, making it the 27th state to succumb to the invasive species.