DENVER — The Council of Western State Foresters (CWSF) supports the ‘call to action’ in the recent Western Forestry Leadership Coalition (WFLC) publication, The Western Bark Beetle Assessment: A Framework for Cooperative Forest Stewardship- 2nd Edition. As the bark beetle epidemic continues to decimate western forests the WFLC updated the 2-year old report so that information can be utilized now for quick on-the-ground action. The report includes new information on the importance of trees in storing carbon, progress over the past five years and a call to action.
Currently, over 7 million acres of western forests contain dead or dying trees due to bark beetle outbreaks. According to the recent assessment, approximately 22 million additional acres of western forests, on both public and private land, are likely to experience significant (over 25%) tree mortality from bark beetles over the next 15 years.
The report states that while we cannot stop large outbreaks, with additional resources we can minimize the impacts of ongoing and future outbreaks on 2.4 million acres of highest priority in the West. Nearly one-half million acres across the west have already been treated at a cost of $75 million. From this, the Council of Western State Foresters concludes that at least $300 million dollars can be productively utilized over the next five years to continue and improve mitigation efforts in the areas of highest risk in the western United States, while simultaneously create jobs.
“We cannot, and should not try, to treat all the acres affected, “states Pete Anderson, Nevada state forester and chair of the CWSF. “That is why the Assessment lays out a plan for prioritization, looking at the all the factors at risk.”
As bark beetle-killed trees fall, heavy surface fuel loads are created on the ground. When burned, these fuels can carry a surface fire into tree crowns causing more damage. “With funding and focus, we can provide jobs while creating healthier forests and safer communities.” says Anderson.
Copies of the Western Bark Beetle Assessment can be downloaded from http://www.wflcweb.org/infomaterials/reports.php.
The Council of Western State Foresters represents the State and Island Forestry Agencies in the seventeen states and six Island territories of the western United States. The responsibilities of these agencies include wildfire and forest health protection services to landowners in forests, cities and communities. For more information please visit www.westernstateforesters.org