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Bitterroot Forest Continues to be “Bugged”

Bitterroot trees. (KLYQ Photo)
There’s good news and bad news for trees in our area.
The latest aerial survey and ground survey of forests in Montana show a mixed infestation picture.
First – the good news – the Mountain Pine Beetle attack seems to be past its peak. The 2011 survey showed over a million acres of mortality, which is half the amount of 2 million in 2010 and much better than the 2009 figure of 3.6 million acres.

Now – the bad news – the 2011 survey shows 1.2 million acres defoliated by the Western Spruce Budworm. Last year it was 326,00 acres. Western Spruce Budworm attacks Douglas fir, spruce and true fir trees and has been prevalent in Lincoln, Flathead and Sanders Counties.

In Ravalli County, concern is increasing about the Pine Butterfly, which attacks mature Ponderosa Pine and has reached “outbreak” levels, mainly in the Darby Ranger District. Also increasing are the populations of Douglas-fir Tussock Moth in Western Montana.

The surveys were conducted by the US Forest Service and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. The study is available on line at the DNRC website.

Mountain Pine Beetle information is online at an interagency website.

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