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Tree removal begins after fire

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BY JEAN RUZICKA

Area residents impacted by the Green Valley Fire arrived in number Thursday in Menahga to learn options and suggestions regarding tree removal from DNR officials, with loggers on hand to meet with the residents.

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“The first job is to kill pine bark beetles,” Mike Carroll of the Department of Natural Resources advised the audience.

Pine bark beetles occur naturally in most conifer stands, commonly attacking and killing stressed pines.

“Our number one concern is bark beetles,” he said of the fire’s aftermath impact. “There are a lot of damaged trees and a lot of beetles out there. We need to get them out in a timely fashion.”

Carroll advised the audience DNR specialists will go on site to inspect or landowners can find information on websites regarding insect disease.

“If buds are vigorously candling, (prominent buds emerging) the tree will make it,” Carroll told the audience.

He also recommended cut materials be removed within two to three weeks to avoid pine bark beetles, which will take out weakened trees.

“We can help determine what needs to be cut,” he told the audience, recommending, “Err on the side of removal.”

Bark beetles generally don’t damage residual trees, Carroll said. But he suggested watching for secondary insects, monitoring for pitch build up.

Burr oaks will usually make it, he said. With young aspen, you will know within days, he said. Hardwoods are generally as not as susceptible, he said. Jack pine is a fire species with natural seeding properties.

“In the next two weeks, you will know if it will make it,” Carroll said of the impacted trees. “The sooner you get the wood out, the better.”

Trees will look worse in the next week or so, area Forestry supervisor Mark Carlstrom told the audience. “Watch the trees. It’s remarkable how many will survive.”

“And we do make house calls,” he reiterated, introducing a crew of DNR forestry specialists.

Homeowners generally have limited insurance coverage or none, DNR program forester Brad Witkin said of the financial loss. But options do exist for taxes, he said.

Larger pines may hold logging value, he said, but not for trees less than five inches in diameter. “This won’t be a money maker,” he told the audience.

Foresters, he said, have been out doing appraisals. Aspen will re-sprout. Conifer, with 800 to an acre, comes at a cost of approximate $300 per acre, he said of reforestation. Hardwoods are $250 per acre. “But it’s late to plant this year.” Cost share funds may be available.

A representative from Potlatch said a market exists for pine, “but the bark can’t be burned through.

“Don’t love those trees to death,” he urged the audience. “Err on the side of caution.”

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