Southern Pine Beetle in New Jersey: NY Times


In Book Club we have been talking about whether scientists still refer to the balance of nature, and equilibrium kinds of conditions. So for the purposes of NCFP, I think it’s interesting to pursue this mystery with stories in real time. Thanks to Dan Botkin for sending this NY Times article:

Notice that “scientists say it is a striking example of how.. are disturbing the balance of nature”. But no actual scientist is mentioned saying this.

In an infestation that scientists say is almost certainly a consequence of global warming, the southern pine beetle is spreading through New Jersey’s famous Pinelands.

It tried to do so many times in the past, but bitterly cold winters would always kill it off. Now, scientists say, the winters are no longer cold enough. The tiny insect, firmly entrenched, has already killed tens of thousands of acres of pines, and it is marching northward.

Scientists say it is a striking example of the way seemingly small climatic changes are disturbing the balance of nature. They see these changes as a warning of the costly impact that is likely to come with continued high emissions of greenhouse gases.

The disturbances are also raising profound questions about how to respond. Old battles about whether to leave nature alone or to manage it are being rejoined as landscapes come under stress.

The New Jersey situation resembles, on a smaller scale, the outbreak of mountain pine beetles that has ravaged tens of millions of acres of forest across the Western United States and Canada. That devastation, too, has been attributed to global warming — specifically, the disappearance of the bitterly cold winter nights that once kept the beetles in check.

But the same bark beetle outbreaks have been seen in the past and we have been told in Colorado (by scientists) that bark beetles and fires are “natural disturbances.” Also, fire suppression must have a role or there wouldn’t be so much prime old lodgepole habitat. Perhaps it’s the location and magnitude that are different, but that’s a bit of a finer point.

Now there is an identified scientist, who says…

Dr. Ayres, one of the nation’s top beetle experts, has studied New Jersey closely for several years and has published research saying the rising temperatures have made the invasion possible. “I think the scientific inference is about as good as it gets,” Dr. Ayres said. “This is a big deal, and it’s going to forever change the way forests have to be managed in New Jersey.”

Ah.. here is the overstocked argument; my italics on “unnatural.”

Long ago, fires would have helped keep the forest more open, but they have been suppressed across much of the country for a century to protect life and property. That has left many forests in an overgrown, unnatural condition.

Experience in the South has shown that such “overstocked stands,” as foresters call them, are especially vulnerable to beetle attack because the trees are too stressed fighting one another for light, water and nutrients. Control of the pine beetle has been achieved there by thinning the woods, leaving the remaining trees stronger.

Mr. Williams, who is critical of New Jersey’s government, advocates a similar approach, involving controlled burns and selective tree-cutting. Mr. Smith, whose college degrees include one in environmental science, pushed through a bill that would have encouraged the state to manage its forests more aggressively. But several environmental groups were suspicious that large-scale logging would ensue.

“We saw this legislation as an excuse to come in under the guise of ‘stewardship’ to open up our forests for commercial operations,” said Jeff Tittel, the director of the state’s Sierra Club chapter.

I like the Guv’s attitude:

To allay such fears, the senator included a requirement that any state forest plan receive certification from an outside body, the Forest Stewardship Council, which is trusted by many environmental groups.

That approach has been followed successfully in other states, including Maryland. But Gov. Chris Christie vetoed the bill, saying he could not allow the state to “abdicate its responsibility to serve as the state’s environmental steward to a named third party.”

Below is my bolding:

Dr. Ayres said that if climatic warming continues, nothing would stop them from eventually heading up the coast. That means forest management is likely to become critical in many places where it has been neglected for decades.

“It’s hard for some people to accept — ‘What, you have to cut down trees to save the forest?’ ” Dr. Ayres said. “Yes, that’s exactly right. The alternative is losing the forest for saving the trees.”

Well, I would only argue that the only thing stopping them would be hosts.. which are relatively fewer to the north.

So we have an article in which the quoted scientist is pragmatic about “things used to be different, now they have changed and we have to deal with it.” But we have only the writer’s claim that

scientists say it is a striking example of the way seemingly small climatic changes are disturbing the balance of nature. They see these changes as a warning of the costly impact that is likely to come with continued high emissions of greenhouse gases.

Still, old pine trees will still die, with or without the pine beetle. And if we can’t burn them to get rid of the tree corpses, they will hang around and ultimately fall over and decay, quicker in hot climates than in the Rockies. Is that what the people of New Jersey want from their forests?

And the Sierra Club guy seems a bit ideological. Local sourcing of things is good but making money from dead trees is bad, because it’s “commercial.” I thought the Sierra Club’s antipathy for selling dead trees was just for federal lands, but maybe not?

31 thoughts on “Southern Pine Beetle in New Jersey: NY Times”

        • Re: “In passing the ECL policy in 1996, the Sierra Club membership voted that the
          Sierra Club will “support protecting all federal publicly-owned lands in the United States
          by advocating an end to all commercial logging on these lands”

          –> PURE IGNORANCE without a hint of any understanding about the forests that they destroying as a direct result of their actions.

          Steve, it seems to me that the SAF could use such an unequivocal and uninformed statement to torpedo the Sierra Club’s credibility. They generally talk about site specific actions but then they come up with a one size fits all policy that is counter to their goals for the long term health of forests and their inhabitants. When is the SAF going to get proactive and boldly and definitively rebut this kind of nonsense instead of endorsing it with silence? Can you get the new Prez of the SAF to give you an idea of when something will be done to execute on Core Language Item #2 ‘to challenge falsehood’?

          • Gil,

            SAF has said quite a lot on federal forest management, though it hasn’t singled out the Sierra Club. See Federal Forest Management section on the SAF Policy page — 19 items under Congressional Action/Testimony and two position statements, here:


            Here’s the basic text of the “Timber Harvesting on Federal, State, and Other Public Forest Lands” position statement:

            The Society of American Foresters supports commercial and non-commercial timber harvesting as an objective and the primary means for maintaining resilient and sustainable forests on federal and other public lands. Experience around the world has shown that, to achieve sustainability, forested landscapes must provide a robust and mutually supportive complement of environmental, economic and social values. Although the relative emphasis of these values varies among ownership types and locations, it is essential that all values be considered as legitimate options in the management of public forestlands. Most public forestlands are governed by laws and policies that allow or mandate sustainable timber harvesting with appropriate resource management planning. When carefully planned and supervised by professional foresters and other resource specialists, timber harvesting can be compatible with, and in fact support, other values such as fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, and recreation. SAF believes that the use of renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable forest products from public lands is imperative given our nation’s increasing resource needs and sustainability concerns.

            SAF has a policy team that passes information like this to members of Congress and their staffs on a regular basis.

            If you’d like to write a Commentary about the Sierra Club’s position, I’ll be happy to publish it in The Forestry Source. Better yet, write one for the NY Times or another newspaper.

            • Steve

              Re: “If you’d like to write a Commentary about the Sierra Club’s position, I’ll be happy to publish it in The Forestry Source. Better yet, write one for the NY Times or another newspaper.”
              –> I don’t see where my comments in the Forestry Source will be received any better than my comments on the SAF Linked-in Site (see my last paragraph).
              –> What meaning would a commentary from a single unknown forester who has committed the great sin of working for the forestry and wood products industry have to the editorial staff or the readers of the NY Times? This is a job for the SAF. As I mention above, my attempts here and elsewhere to make the case have gone nowhere – I recognize my limitations.

              Re: “SAF has said quite a lot on federal forest management, though it hasn’t singled out the Sierra Club. See Federal Forest Management section on the SAF Policy page — 19 items under Congressional Action/Testimony and two position statements … SAF has a policy team that passes information like this to members of Congress and their staffs on a regular basis”
              –> I believe that the SAF is addressing the wrong people and the continuing increase in the credibility of the eco mantras is the basis for my belief. I think that the stories reported here and the reactions to them corroborate what I have seen day to day in the media.
              –> It doesn’t matter what you pass on to congress and their staffs. In the heat of the political discussions in DC and elsewhere, the only thing that matters is what their constituents are leaning on them the hardest about. For the last 3 decades their constituents are stirred by eco mantras from eco media blitzes. The people are not expressing concern for sound forestry to their elected leaders. I have made this case repeatedly on the SAF Linked-in site only to be told that the SAF is quite proud of the work of the policy group speaking to themselves and to congressional staffers. It’s not working.
              –> The SAF has to take the case to the public by aggressively disproving the falsehoods perpetrated by the ecos. We need to identify the low hanging fruit on the eco tree of falsehoods, knock those falsehoods down one by one, demonstrate our independence from any commercial control, gain credibility, and move up the tree until the remaining falsehood fruits have gone rotten or fallen off due to lack of credibility. Here and on the SAF Linked-in site I have identified many of the low hanging fruits. No one has shown any willingness to work by e-mail and through the the SAF Linked-in site to follow my suggestions. This is not a one man war. I have tried to lead but I’ve noticed that nobody is following or suggesting a better approach. A few have nodded in agreement but that is not a movement that is willing to come up with an action plan and implement it step by step.

              • Gil,

                You say ” The SAF has to take the case to the public by aggressively disproving the falsehoods perpetrated by the ecos.”

                OK, but how? SAF has a budget that is a fraction of the Sierra Club’s budget ($100 million for 2012), and that’s just one of the myriad enviro groups. The Sierra Club has roughly 500 paid staff members, SAF has 18.

                  • Matthew

                    Obviously you haven’t bothered to pay attention or take anything that I’ve said seriously or you’d have very specific examples of your and other ecos’ falsehoods so I am not going to bother to repeat myself or take your request seriously. I’ve made that mistake before and only wasted my time.

                    bonne chance

                    • I am an eco too and a darn good one. I got nominated for one of those Heinz awards for truthfulness and courage and all of that after Biscuit, and much lauded by many in the FS and proud to call myself an eco.

                      I am not yet aware of anything the ecos have said about the pine barrens situation so best we stick to that topic as professionals. I do think many will be supportive of thinning, although perhaps not. Hard to demonstrate to people that taking healthy trees is going to be better in the long run. Sticky. But if people like Nature Conservancy come out for it, who knows.

                      Is TNC eco?? They have a very capable scientific staff and are proactive in management. Heck, they (gasp) graze cattle on their lands too.

                      I just like talking forestry, since I am in fact one myself, so….we will not resolve larger political conflicts here but we can address the specific management practices which you know quite a lot about Gil, more than me in this case and others.

                      Your credibility lies in that realm and I think what you have to say as a professional will be heard.

                • Steve

                  As I have stated here and in the SAF Linked-in site before:
                  I naively hope that there are some SAF members (retirees/academia) who would be willing to voluntarily work on-line through the SAF site, the Linked-in site and by e-mail to:
                  1) Prioritize the opportunities
                  2) Develop an action plan, raise funds, maximize bang for the buck and etc.
                  3) Implement the plan (Document and script the rebuttal to each prioritized falsehood and distribute according to plan)

                  I know at least 5 people on this site who might appreciate an opportunity to work on something constructive, concrete and proactive rather than exchange redundant blather/babel with the ecos on this site.

  1. A couple of comments on this good post:

    1. It’s notable that the notion of “thinning a herd” — i.e., for its own good and survival chances — has a certain (let’s call it) more or less universal “linguistic legitimacy” that the notion of “thinning a forest” does not.

    2. The current prevailing orthodoxy re human responsibility and interactions with forests incorporates a number of value coordinates or ideals: including, e.g., preservation of what is “natural”; maintenance or restoration of a forest condition before Euro-American settlement; maintenance of ecologically sound processes; protection of balance or equilibrium; ecological health; etc. I recently read an interesting article by Paul Schullery on the post-fire evaluation of the 1988 Yellowstone conflagration. Early in the article, and perhaps as a kind of elaborated throat-clearing, Schullery noted some cautions about the environmental ideal that had guided the recent disposition toward fire in the park. Schullery’s caveats struck me as carrying a heavy load of conceptual and policy meanings and implications. He wrote: “No national park is ecologically isolated from its surroundings; little is known about the precise ecological condition of any park at the time it was first visited by Europeans; maintaining biotic associations requires maintaining dynamic natural systems in which change is unavoidable, thus precluding the maintenance of any specific ecological state; natural systems cannot change without affecting the relative abundance of various elements of the biotic communities; and elements of the pre-European setting, such as American Indians, may no longer be present, nor may their effects be known or replicable. The Leopold Committee and many subsequent observers recognized these complications, but respecting parks for their ecological processes was widely recognized as a useful ideal around which management policies have evolved (Houston 1971).” The quotation’s source is “The Fires and Fire Policy: The drama of the 1988 Yellowstone fires generated a review of national policy,” BioScience 39(10):686-694, (Nov.) 1989, pp. 686-687. Schullery gave us quite a laundry list of cautions about the prevailing paradigm. A humbling list, no?

  2. “Still, old pine trees will still die, with or without the pine beetle. And if we can’t burn them to get rid of the tree corpses, they will hang around and ultimately fall over and decay, quicker in hot climates than in the Rockies. Is that what the people of New Jersey want from their forests?”

    Interesting leap of your market based “solution” (burn them!) in an article that never mentioned biomass.

    Also Sharon, if you are implying you have a concern for the causes of AGW in the first place, (rather than how to profit from its effects) you could start by factually asserting comparisons of burning vs. decay of sequestered carbon accounting. I’d appreciate any citation of a peer reviewed paper(s) to support your assertions.

    • I think you’re doing the leaping here, David. I was not thinking anything about carbon. I was thinking of thickets of dead trees standing and lying, and how that’s not nearly as aesthetically pleasing (to many people) as green upright stands of pines. Many folks use the Barrens to recreate and my question was simply what kind of forests people like to see. Nothing about carbon.

      • You’re right Sharon,
        It never occurred to me you actually thought this article to be fundamentally about solving the problem of “aesthetics.” Nonetheless, I see it fundamentally as a problem which cannot be solved by burning. To “burn them to get rid of the tree corpses,…” (for the rather speculative assertions as to what the public “likes to see”) is to ignore causation of AGW. To “burn them” instead of allowing trees to remain in place as sequestered carbon, habitat, and future soil — logically only further increases and compounds causation of the problem created by AGW.

        Taxpayers funded just such “management” advice leading to the disarray on our NFS. Still, I’ll never quite understand how USFS careerists at the center of a hopelessly dysfunctional agency at the center of colossal National FS mismanagement –which helped create the conditions taxpayer owners now face — can think ANYONE would ever trust them to “manage” their way out of the chaos those careerists helped create.

        • David, NJ doesn’t have federal forests so their management can’t be a function of poor choices by NFS.

          I disagree with your view that I am “ignoring causation of AGW.” I only am saying that 1) SPBs appear to be in New Jersey 2) SPBs can kill lots of trees 3) thickets of dead pitch pines are not “better” for carbon, habitat and future soil than other possibilities, and 4) New Jerseyites get to choose.

          If New Jerseyites are like Coloradans, they prefer green living trees, and would feel that you need to remove this material to get a new stand established. It seems to me that the carbon implications are not as simple as “leaving dead trees there is best for carbon.” And on state and private forests, I don’t think management is required to maximize carbon sequestration, anyway. If the US wanted to do that, they could take farms in the midwest out of production and plant trees.

          • “David, NJ doesn’t have federal forests so their management can’t be a function of poor choices by NFS.”

            1) I never claimed these are NF lands and am familiar with the Pine Barrens.
            2) The USFS “Trust us, we’re experts” careerists and their record of “poor (management) choices” in the USFS speaks for itself, and in my opinion and the opinion of many others, the havoc on public lands created by the USFS calls into question their capability to do anything other than (as a captured agency controlled by a corporatized government), continue to facilitate and cheerlead disaster capitalism of public resources.

            (re: “If the US wanted to do that, they could take farms in the midwest out of production and plant trees.”)
            3) The “US” is obviously not working for its public best interests given their approval rating of Congress. (In 2012 “the public approval rating of Congress … sunk below 15 percent.” (NYT)

            Given the tarsands oil pipelines, “mountaintop removal” for coal on the east coast and the headlong pursuit of hydraulic fracking (exempt from the Clean Water Act) on public lands, it is clear a great deal of what the public would like to NOT see is happening anyway.

            Given your previous position statements on a host of crucial issues (or lack thereof, such as fracking in CO) as they are accelerating AGW, (as well as your approval of the worst carbon polluters receiving the revenues of a carbon tax as a policy remedy to AGW) — it is fair and accurate to conclude you are “ignoring causation of AGW.”

            We will have to agree to disagree on your suggested solution for the Pine Barrens is to “burn them.”(So, let’s get this straight — you weren’t suggesting burning the pine there for biomass incineration as you have advocated for on public lands?)

            In fact, the ONLY remedy for the Pine Barrens and the planet is to address causation and acceleration of AGW via confronting the suicidal lunacy of the prevailing energy policy of decades. That policy has subsidized hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars for multinational oil corporations, facilitated their exploitation of tarsands oil, leveled whole mountains for coal, championed the “carbon neutral” lies of biomass for electrical generation, polluted and destroyed precious water supplies for hydraulic fracking, and bypassed science and law by mandating logging levels on public lands.

            Whatever else gets discussed here and “authoritatively” opined upon regarding the chaos created by our energy policy is merely pissing on the edges of the conflagrations we now collectively face.

        • My understanding is that burning them is a sanitation measure to kill the beetles in the wood. Knowing nothing about past uses of this measure, I cannot judge this but it makes sense to me.

          Whether massive infestations of PB can be forestalled in NJ is unclear to me but I imagine that people there do value those live trees and will be willing to support cutting that retains them. Perhaps not.

          But fulminating about past mismanagement by the USFS avoids completely addressing this very specific situation in a very specific place, i seem to be just hearing rhetoric, justified perhaps in other instances but not in the NJ pine barrens.

          If you are OK with massive loss of those pines david, OK, that is taking an absolute moral position but i do not see you attempting to deal with ecological or practical questions outside your understanding.

          On the other hand, people will pile so hard on you here that there is little point in my doing so since I appreciate your perspective.

          • Greg

            I don’t believe that I would advocate burning to control the SPB. I am not aware of it having been done for the SPB. Burning would require bringing in heavy and expensive equipment to put extensive fire lines around the trees in very dry conditions. That would slow down the process of getting the trees on the ground. In addition burning could create an updraft that could spread the SPB. Burning would add nothing and be a detraction to controlling the SPB whereas, it is helpful for some west coast and interior beetles that, apparently, can climb/fly upward into their next host. The SPB basically flies/falls onto it’s next host at best on a 45 degree downward path due to it’s aerodynamic shortcomings.


            • A.S.P. is short for A.S.A.P. i.e. the job has got to get done really quick 🙂 That’s my story and I’m sticking to it in spite of my short term mental lapse above. 🙂

          • Thanks Greg,
            This post started out as Sharon’s inspired pursuit of ‘”this mystery”… “of whether scientists still refer to the balance of nature.’ She predictably concludes her post however, with the standard green bashing tactics as if all public comment is illegitimate if it dares to challenge the painfully obvious failings of commodity-driven, widespread forest mismanagement on state and private lands as well as the NFS. The larger cause of the SPB outbreak should matter here too — as should the consequences for instance, of Southeast longleaf pine and pending USDA approval of GMO eucalyptus tree plantation management practices which ultimately serve to accelerate AGW.

            The Pine Barrens demonstrates precisely the disequilibrium of nature resulting from AGW which forest mismanagement plays a significant role in. My response is pointing out the futility of merely treating the effects of the problem with business as usual as if that would fix the problem — instead of addressing the causation of the problem.

            In sum, it is my sense that issues around causation should matter in this discussion. Prior forest mismanagement has a sufficient-enough history of prior failings to warrant a drastic re-prioritising — from a commodity-driven forest management to a climate-driven biological imperative for all forest management.

            • Sure, but the pine barren situation is about a warming trend allowing spread of PB north, it has nothing to do with past forest practices in that area since the largest portion of it is in conservation ownership with no active management I know of.

              I wonder what owners such as TNC will do to deal with PB mortality. I understand the need for sanitation cuts to take down outbreak centers but what is also suggested is thinning that might forestall such outbreaks although this would have to be done on a large scale to be successful.

              This is not commercial logging although I have no objection to taking the logs out for use.

              This in fact is similar to the situation in pinelands across the US west where some thinning can do much to improve the vigor of remaining trees allowing them to pitch out pine beetles.

              Contending that such dense stands is solely due to past mismanagement ignores the diverse causes for this increase in stand density. I agree that stopping fires had some role in this but we see this density increase in many stands that saw no active management.

              The question is what to do about it and for those such as me who value large old, live trees, I support aggressive thinning in some places, within reason.

              If the root cause is warming due to CO2 increases, we are still faced with the immediate practical question about what, if anything can be done to preserve certain old forest lands.

              And one of the most irritating things about the pro fire cohort in the enviro community such as George Wuerthner for whom any large fires was “natural” and to be applauded, was his complete lack of recognition of the role of climate change in driving large blazes recently.

              Maybe there is little to do about it but this is the situation we are faced with across the globe. Dealing with “larger” issues still leaves us with the reality of a specific piece of ground and what exactly to do about it. Now.

  3. And who exactly is the commercial interest that might log and process those trees in the industrial forest lands of south jersey? Not a lot of logging and processing outfits down there. A few years ago I was astonished to find out the chip mill on the upper Delaware in southern NY had shut down since they could get chips cheaper from Brazil, this really screwed up a lot of small landowners who wanted to sell their cull wood after harvesting the good stuff that could go for higher end uses.

    Just out of curiosity, I have seen such aggressive thinning in lodgepole in Oregon for beetle control but how well will it work in Jersey?

  4. It is irrelevant whether this SPB (Southern Pine Bettle) outbreak is a result of global warming from AGW or natural long term cycles in global temps or a short term warming mini cycle due to the solar cycle peaking this year.

    The only thing that matters is what do we do about it.

    What we do about it is to draw on the multimillion dollars worth of annual (over more than three decades) research and over three decades of successfully implementing the research operationally to drastically curtail the SPB from Texas to Georgia. There is no place for speculation here.
    1) As far back as the late 80’s the Texas Forest Service (TFS) had determined that the risk of a SPB outbreak was tied to the amount of southern pine acreage in a region that averaged over 120BA (basal area). This general relationship was corroborated by other states and research. The TFS data showed risk rising exponentially once it got to 120BA and by the time it reached 180BA an outbreak was pretty much guaranteed. Experience has validated this info repeatedly.
    2) The pulp industry in Virginia sort of forgot about this and decided to go to no thin 21, or so, year rotations. The whole state was seriously devastated by SPB roughly 1.5 decades ago – they learned their lesson the hard way. What was the answer – Implement the research and operational practices that had been successful in controlling the SPB from Texas to Georgia at least a decade earlier. As this SPB moves north of Virginia to New Jersey, the answer is the same for NJ as for the states from Va to Ky to Tx and to Fl. The 14,000 acres infested in NJ is nothing, in the mid 70’s on a commercial flight, I saw a 5,000 contiguous acres infestation and with a quick glance, I could see at least another 15,000 acres of red tops showing that the trees had been destroyed. In a couple of days, I was on the ground looking at the 5,000 acre loss.
    3) This same sort of relationship applies to those forest beetles which are known to have the potential for catastrophic loss of forests elsewhere in the US. The concept that stocking levels are tied to forest health (all else being equal) is fundamental to the science of forestry and as some stated above and as some were quoted in the article: Susceptibility to insect and disease outbreaks is inversely related to stand vigor. Stand vigor is dependent on the trees in the stand being able to get enough sunlight for photosynthesis and enough nutrients from the soil through the roots to survive. Competition controls access to nutrients and sunlight. Competition is determined largely by stand density. Depending on the species, soil, climate, and hydrology there is some threshold BA above which the stand density severely threatens the life of the stand. Anyone who ignores this principle has no business speaking to the subject.
    a) Unlike the west coast and interior species, the southern pine foliage turns blazing red almost immediately after being successfully infested. These “Hot Spots” are seen very easily from the air. So, during the active season, the State Forest Services and Private Industry patrol the skies on a frequency at least weekly initially and more or less as the season wears on depending on the intensity of threat. The information is shared with other land owners immediately.
    b) Immediately crews hit the hot spots with chain saws and put the infested trees on the ground. Since the heavy and aerodynamically inefficient SPB can only fly downhill, the surrounding living pines are also cut and laid on the ground by increasing the radius of the cut by one or two tree heights. Quite often no effort is made to haul the logs to market because doing so would spread the infestation all along the route to the mill as the road wind whips the beetles off of the trucks and into the surrounding woods.
    c) In NJ, use sound forest management to keep stand basal areas below the appropriate threshold BA for Pitch Pine and Virginia Pine (aka Jersey Pine)

    In the south we have learned that it is a lot better to lay a lot of small hot spots on the ground in order avoid loosing the hundreds of thousands of acres that we lost in the mid 70’s. The Sierra Club will do or say whatever they want but if anyone wants to drastically curtail future outbreaks, then the solution is defined above. If they don’t take action then the annual acreage loss in NJ will continually increase exponentially unless they get a solid week of more of max temperatures of about 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

    As to Sharon’s comment about this being slowed by a lack of hosts as the beetles move North – No such luck – Stressed White Pines and Hemlocks are also susceptible.

    General info:

  5. Much if not most of the NJ pine barrens is in conservation ownership, some bought with federal money. I am not sure of the details. Never been there, not exactly a pleasant drive from upstate NY but I was enthralled with McPhee’s book.

    I do well recall hithchhiking to NY from DC when I was 17 and being struck by the vast undeveloped area near the interstate, surprised me.

    it seems that rather than wait for outbreak centers, a more proactive approach is now called for. My guess is that basal area is quite high since the trees are older. How old?

    This will really rev up the controversy but many in NJ are educated and not so prone to opposing all management activities>

    Unless they want to lose those tracts of fine old trees, it seems that a lot of cutting will need to be done.

    I am open to alternative views on pine lands ecology.

    Is there evidence for pine beetle attacks in NJ in centuries past? Perhaps, but given the cold spell from about 1600 to 1850,. such a warm period would have been much earlier.

  6. The Sierra Club said that in 1996 and still follow it? Hmmm…..plenty of enviros I knew in Oregon were pro management to some extent but was not sure about the Sierra Club. They will meet their match in the Pine Barrens if a lot of trees start dying fast. Hard to get locals to support that.

    But, you have to realize that many consider the SAF to be a lot of industry hacks so what they say will have little resonance. But dead trees are dead trees and many will be aghast at that in Jersey.

    • greg

      Re: “you have to realize that many consider the SAF to be a lot of industry hacks”
      –> That is just a convenient mantra for ecos to sing in order to discredit foresters even further.
      –> Most of upper management in forest industry that I have been associated with view the SAF as very unfriendly to industry. And my experience tends to affirm that point of view with the major turn occurring around ’77

  7. I’m confused and bemused by the oft-repeated assertions that U.S. Forest Service (National Forest) Management is “commodity driven”. It would appear, judging from the harvesting record (7% of the annual growth is cut), that the exact opposite is true. Clarification, anyone?

    While climate change (lack of cold weather) may have triggered the N.J. pine beetle epidemic, non-management (let nature take its course), resulting in high basal areas and senescent stands, made the present situation inevitable. The N.J. beetle attacks are a harbinger of what is to come for unmanaged public eastern forests if the Sierra Club and like-minded ecos have their way. Take a look at what has happened to pine forests in the western U.S. under a non-management policy.

    • The USFS is hardly commodity driven any longer, due to law suits and political decisions greatly restricting their cut. But many people in our age cohort are still responding to the post WW2 era when timber outputs were a huge part of the USFS mission and income stream. Not the case any longer and I feel that many yowling about “commodity driven’ policies are beating a very dead horse in places.

      But having planted 100s of clearcuts in 6 states, I know plenty enough about that earlier era with those huge early 70s cuts in north idaho. The courts were the only way to halt it.

      But now it is damnably hard to talk to too many about what good forestry can look like. And yes, we need many more pictures of what those projects can look like and many recent FS ones look pretty good to me.

      What is needed in NJ are some ecological scientists from their universities and TNC to go public about the need for thinning in the pinelands. But who knows what they will say and some will disagree,

      I personally much dislike arguing religion and gnash my teeth at some zero cut people, but…..given a rather sorry history, not too hard to understand.

      The Tongass NF surely comes to mind where the feds spent far more on cutting than they could ever hope to recover in sales revenue. I figure this is why David Beebe is so adamant and up on the Tongass, I am on his side completely.

      My company made scads of money contracting forest work on the Tongass, a real steal and dumb dumb dumb.

      It was hard on me to see it and likely harder on David who had to live up there with it while I just took it to the bank.


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