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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Pine Beetle Epidemic

Aloha Everyone,

Mr. Uchi returned today to work on the 3rd of the 6 pine trees in my Mother's garden. Watching him carefully inspecting pine needles to check the health of her trees, I thought of the dead pine forests J.J. and I have been seeing from Washington to Oregon, and more recently in Colorado.

Bark beetles are native to North America. They are found from sea level to 11,000 feet elevation in the forests of Canada to Mexico. These insects have been around for thousands of years but recently, devastating effects of bark beetles have become especially evident. When we visited the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, our friend Diane a Volunteer Ranger, told us that dead pine trees are so noticeable that she is frequently asked about them.

According to the information provided by the US Forest Services, there are several species of bark beetles presently killing trees. Their targets are also indiscriminate as they attack lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine, limber pine, Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir and Colorado blue spruce.

Furthermore, it is not unusual to experience periodic outbreaks of native bark beetles. However recent outbreak has been far severe than previously recorded. Causes for this outbreak is blamed on climate warming. Mild winter temperature and low precipitation is conducive to beetle eggs surviving the winter months and killing already weaken trees.   

Even though National Park Service recognizes loss of trees as part of "natural conditions" it is painful to see mountains after mountains of dead trees.

Aloha -- Cathi