In the fight against the Mountain Pine Beetle, the Bitterroot National Forest is contracting to have dead trees cut down at The Martin Creek and Jennings campgrounds and East Fork Guard Station. Those are the first sites for tree removal on the Sula Ranger District this month.

As the weather permits, trees that have been attacked and killed by the Mountain Pine Beetle will be taken down by C&L Tree Management of Darby. Officials estimate about 400,000 board feet of timber will be salvaged in the operation in the south end of the Bitterroot Valley.

Recently, about 200 dead pine trees were removed from the Alta campground up the West Fork Ranger District. The campground was closed during the operation. As the work progresses in the East Fork, the Sula campgrounds will be closed to allow the cutting.

After East Fork Guard Station, Martin Creek and Jennings Campgrounds, work will be done on the Rombo and Sam Billings Campgrounds.

Logging is part of the project to try to prevent spread of the Mountain Pine Beetle. Officials are also spraying areas with the insecticide Carbaryl and are using a pheromone called Verbenone, which dissuades the beetle from attacking.

In a news release, Public Information Officer Tod McKay said the work needs to be done as soon as possible to do the most good. A recent aerial survey showed a "6-fold increase" in the acres of lodgepole pine killed by beetle since 2009.

McKay said there's more information on the Bitterroot National Forest website or call the Sula Ranger District at (406) 821-3201.

Also in the Sula area, private landowners have been harvesting "red and dead" trees, trying to slow the spread of the beetle.