Friday, February 5, 2016

Lodgepole Pine and the Mountain Pine Beetle

I love trees!  Magnificent, beautiful, and stately creations they are.  Living here in Idaho, the most prominent tree that grows in our area is what is commonly known as the lodgepole pine. I've always thought pine trees quite beautiful.  But, this lodgepole pine - while it can be a beautiful tree, most of the time, it is at the very bottom of the line of trees in Idaho that are considered valuable, and is certainly not my favorite tree.

To be fair, the lodgepole pine does have its benefits, as its quick growth provides shade for the nicer more long-term trees like the Douglas fir that need shade until they get mature enough to handle the sunshine.  It grows very quickly, and as it grows, lower limbs die off, and become an eye sore.  It is the limbs that cause the most grief to owners of lodgepole pines, along with the fact that they have a very shallow root system, and can topple over with just a breath of wind, it seems.  You do not want them anywhere near your home!  (We took out most of our lodgepole close to our home because of that very reason).

In our 10 acres, we have a lot of lodgepole pine growing, but they are providing shade for the smaller firs that are growing underneath them.  So they really aren't all that bad... in fact they are quite necessary for a healthy forest.

So then you may ask... why do you dislike the lodgepole pines so?

And I will tell you this... come and work with us for a day cleaning up the brush from the lodgepole pine, and you may understand.  {smiles}


... see all that dead brush?  It is from just ONE lodgepole pine!  That is a lot of dead limbs to haul to a burn pile.  For every average lodgepole pine tree, that is how much brush comes from their limbs.


My husband or son cuts down the tree, and we then carry off the brush to the closest burn pile.  Today, it was just my husband and I working, so those brush piles you see were mostly built by myself.  My husband did help me some.



The sad news is that a terrible bug, called the mountain pine beetle has attacked a large number of our lodgepole pines.  We had an Idaho forester come out to our property and he advised us that the best way to ensure that we keep the beetles from further advancing their attack on our trees this summer was to begin to cut down the half-dead trees now, before spring comes, and the beetles come out of hibernation.


You can see here some of our trees attacked by the pine beetle.  They are half green, and half red (which means dead).  These are the trees that the beetles have hibernated in for the winter.  They must come down now, and the brush and tops burnt before/during spring if we have any hope of saving the rest of our trees.  We have a large amount of these trees that are infested with the beetle, and a far more larger number that are already dead.   The dead ones we will leave standing for now.  Our greatest concern now is to take out all the half-dead trees with hibernating beetles.  

They are going to burn!  All the limbs and tops of the tree must be burnt in order to kill out the beetle, as they hibernate in the top of the tree for the winter.  These beetles do not eat dead trees, but they attack a healthy tree, kill it, and move on to the next healthy tree.  It is a plague that is affecting and wiping out much of Idaho's lodgepole pine.  And while lodgepole pine is at the bottom of the totem pole of valuable trees, as I mentioned earlier... these pines still do play an important role in the infrastructure of the forest.  And while I hate their dead limbs... these pines really are necessary in a forest for the slower trees to take root and grow.  

This means that we have a lot of work to do!  So we got started today as the snow had begun to melt again, and it was time to get busy.  



I love our woods, our trees, and the beauty within the forest.   It breaks our heart that so many of our trees are going to have to go down.  Even if they are lodgepole pine! 


While we have often lamented the large amount of dead limbs that lodgepole pine sport, they still can be a beautiful tree to look at, if maintained well.  When we bought our ten acres, the trees had not been maintained in many years, and it has been a lot of work for us to slowly take out the dead trees.  But, now our work has increased immensely because of the beetle infestation.  And we will be taking out the half-dead trees now, and leaving the dead trees alone... for now.  



But we are making the best of it, and looking at it as a necessary job to do to preserve the remaining live healthy trees we have.


Now, all we need to do is teach Annie and Roger how to haul brush!  {smiles}  She doesn't look too interested, does she?


As I walked around our yard today, there was still joy to be found everywhere... especially with my little feathered friends so happily filling their bellies, and bringing a smile to our hearts as we watched them.

Regardless of the loss of these trees, I found hope in knowing that if we work hard this spring, we can hopefully save the rest of our trees.   And we sure don't need a membership at the gym... we've got lots of exercise cut out for us over the next few months.... one hour of hauling brush is worth about 2 hours at the gym, we believe!  {smiles}

We are looking on the bright side of things as much as we can, and hoping that we can stem off the advancement of the pine beetle.  We have been told that this is the most effective way to fight, which is to burn them while they are hibernating.  And all this healthy exercise won't hurt us a bit, even though our muscles may complain at night... like they are doing now :)



31 comments:

  1. I also love trees. I can't explain it but they fascinate me. I am terribly sorry for this. Sounds like a mess but sounds like you are looking at the bright side as best as you can. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it is a big job for us to do, but it has to be done! And looking on the bright side of things always helps with a task that seems daunting! :)

      Delete
  2. How sad is that, those beetles are terrible. I believe it is the same beetle that is destroying Colorado's trees. The last time I was out there I couldn't believe the damage that was done, dead trees were everywhere where it used to be beautiful greenery in the mountains.

    That looks like it must have been a lot of work, you must be exhausted. I'm assuming it's still ongoing?

    Have a great day. Kelly

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes these beetles are all part of the same family of destroyers, I think. We went through Colorado too, and saw the damage as well. It is so sad to see! We love our trees so much, and it is going to be a lot of work, and sad to see the empty spaces where the trees once were, but it has to be done. We have a LOT to do yet. It will be a process. But we are hoping this will keep them from destroying any more trees. :)

      Delete
  3. How sad is that, those beetles are terrible. I believe it is the same beetle that is destroying Colorado's trees. The last time I was out there I couldn't believe the damage that was done, dead trees were everywhere where it used to be beautiful greenery in the mountains.

    That looks like it must have been a lot of work, you must be exhausted. I'm assuming it's still ongoing?

    Have a great day. Kelly

    ReplyDelete
  4. You are doing what is best! We have the ash bore here that is causing devastation in the forest areas. Then there are the tent worms...ugh! I guess we have to do what is best for the trees, and nature to survive.
    At least you are looking on the bright side....you will be full of muscles by the end of winter!!! lol.
    Have a great weekend!
    Debbie
    xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is sad to see bugs killing the trees! I hate to hear that you have a problem there as well. And yes, looking on the bright side certainly helps! Life is always better if you look at things on the bright side! And getting a good workout in God's exercise gym is really the best :) Have a wonderful day my friend!

      Delete
  5. I imagine you'll sleep quite well after all that hard work - that is a bonus, for sure!! Sounds like you need to gather some friends around for a big bonfire - you've got what you need right there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great minds think alike :) Once the snow melts, we plan on inviting as many people as we can to have a bonfire, and we won't complain if anyone wants to pick up a stray branch or two to throw onto the fire, lol! It will indeed be a fun time. :)

      Delete
  6. Oh, my! That is just awful! So sorry you are having to do this, as it breaks my heart to see trees come down. Especially, old ones! Glad you are making the best of a bad situation and that you are able to work together. God bless you and give you the daily strength you need. :) If I were near, I would gladly pitch in to help. Sending you big hugs from across the miles!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was quite sickening when we first discovered what it was that was killing our trees. We are now trying to look on the bright side of this, and hope that we can plant some new trees in place of the ones we lost, and now we know what to look for to stop the beetle from doing more damage. Thank you for your offer to pitch in, so sweet of you! It is a lot of work, but with God's grace and help we will get through it. Many hugs to you today too! :)

      Delete
  7. That is sad about the beetle infestation! May God give you strength for all the brush hauling ahead! A couple of summers ago when we were clearing the land to build our house we had many a tired day of hauling wood and brush so I can understand your weariness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You speak from experience, and know just how exhausting working with wood is! We look at it as great exercise, but our muscles sure do complain, lol! Pine trees shed the most brush, and it is exhausting with each tree cleaning up after it is cut down. But, it must be done, and so we are working away at it. :)

      Delete
  8. What a shame for you to lose those trees. Is there any way of having the remainder sprayed against infestation, maybe?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We did ask about having the trees sprayed, but the forester said they have had as much or more success simply by doing what we are doing. So we were happy with that answer, and will continue our work and praying that it works! It is a shame to lose these trees indeed, but we do hope to plant some more this spring if we can. :)

      Delete
  9. Hi MM! I can't help but think about those trees being my own bad habits. How they try to kill off my life, my 'tree'. It takes a long time to clean up the damage, and to burn the bad places, but my health depends on it. Just the health of your 10 acres depends on your caring for your forest.
    I've never been to Idaho, but your pictures are always so gorgeous. You do your state proud! And I am glad you can see the positives in the hard work...it'll get you through!
    Blessings,
    Ceil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What an amazing analogy! It is so true that something as small as a beetle can cause so much damage, and just how true in our own lives, how something that seems small and insignificant can ruin all the good we have done. God help us all to be quick to see the little "beetles" and squash them before too much damage is done! Appreciate you sharing that great thought dear Ceil!

      Thank you for your sweet words about Idaho, it is an amazing place to live! We are so blessed :) Thank you for your visit and great thoughts, they are always so appreciated!

      Delete
  10. It's so sad about the trees... A lot of the Elms in our area had to be cut down because of the Dutch Elm Disease, which is also spread by beetles. Luckily I still have four of them on my property, but some of the limbs had to come off to save them. I hope you are able to stop your beetle problem.

    It sure is beautiful where you live :)

    xo,
    rue

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was indeed so awful for us when we were told what was causing our trees to die! I have heard from many people who have insects or fungus killing trees in their area too. So awful to deal with this, but it has to be done. I'm sorry to hear about the elms in your area dying!

      Thanks for your sweet words about where we live, we are kind of partial in thinking it is pretty amazing here :) Have a wonderful day Rue!

      Delete
  11. You're enlarging my borders, for sure! Giving me a bit of an education ... and beautiful photos, too.

    Love this visit today!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to be of help enlarging your borders, Linda :) Its an education we would rather not have had, but now, what is done is done, and we have lots of work to do, lol! Appreciate your wonderful visit and comment, and hope you are having a wonderful day! :)

      Delete
  12. Aw. I would love to spend a day with this cutie in the snow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She would love it too, I know! Thanks for your visit Lux, always appreciated!

      Delete
  13. It is a real shame that certain beetles and bugs love certain trees and kill them out. We have similar problems in our province (and country). We've lost thousands of elm trees due to the Dutch Elm Beetle, and there are pine trees under attack by another beetle. I guess there will always be bugs! You are doing a great job of prevention in your acreage. It's hard work and hopefully will deter this beetle from further infestation. Have a great week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its so terrible the destructive work that these beetles have done everywhere! It really saddens me to see these trees affected by the beetles, and we hope that we can stop their advance by working at it now. It is hard work, but our hope is that it will pay off in the long run! Hope you are having a great week as well! :)

      Delete
  14. Looks like a lot of work. I hope your spring doesn't come too fast. It's about a month ahead here...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a lot of work for sure. I know you know about working in the woods. It is hard work for sure. Our spring is a bit slower this year than last, and we are hoping it doesn't come too fast. Our snow is melting fast though. We need to keep busy!

      Delete
  15. Hi,
    We took a trip to Montana last summer. We saw the red in the pines, folks told us it was the pine beetle killing the trees.
    Here in Wisconsin we have an Emerald Ash Borer. It is an awful bug killing our trees.
    We had four trees die in our yard this summer. We have one more to go on cutting down. It is a big tree, so we take it slow.
    I enjoyed your photos, you have beautiful property and animals.
    Carla

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is terrible to see the destructive work of the beetles in action for sure. We are hoping that our hard work will keep the advancement of the beetle on any more of our trees. I'm sorry to hear about the loss of the trees in your yard, so sad! Will you plant more? We plan to try and plant trees this spring to make up for the ones we have lost. Appreciate your visit, and hope you are having a great day! :)

      Delete
  16. Hello, I just read this article and I understand, but you are doing the right thing. If I was closer I would help! You need to plant some smaller pines to grow under the shade and protection of the larger ones. I must say that you will be strong by the time spring comes around!! Loved the photos!
    Love, Roxy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your kind offer of help Roxy, it feels better just knowing you would help {smiles} Working in the woods is not an easy job, and our muscles sure let us know they've been overworked, but it is a good thing to do. We just hope to beat out and get rid of this beetle to keep it from attacking any more of our trees. And the good exercise is always welcome. Thanks for your visit, always appreciated!

      Delete

Your comments are blessings to me, and I appreciate each and every one, they are precious to me! I appreciate you taking the time to comment on my blog... this is what makes blogging worthwhile! Have a blessed day!