In the spring and summer of 2016, a large-scale bark beetle outbreak swept through the Applegate Valley, triggered by extreme drought and warm winter temperatures. The low-elevation foothills of the Applegate Valley were particularly affected, causing mortality in Douglas fir trees throughout the watershed. In some areas mortality was very selective, in other locations significant overstory tree mortality was taking place.
While conducting timber sale monitoring on BLM land for Klamath Forest Alliance (KFA) and Applegate Neighborhood Network (ANN) I began to notice a pattern. In many cases, the largest concentrations of bark beetle mortality were occurring in managed stands. Many of these stands had been commercially logged by the BLM between 1990 and 2014. In watersheds like Thompson Creek, Ferris Gulch, Sterling Creek and Star Gulch, extensive commercial logging projects had been implemented by BLM, supposedly to increase individual tree vigor, therefore, increasing resilience to drought, fire and beetle infestations. Ironically, these same stands became the center of the 2016 bark beetle outbreak.
The Environmental Analysis and the Endangered Species Act Consultation conducted by Fish and Wildlife for BLM timber sales relies on assumptions that tree vigor will respond positively to commercial logging operations; that canopy cover conditions will recover relatively quickly; that wildlife habitat will benefit, and stand conditions will become more healthy, more complex and more resistant to bark beetle induced mortality. In many situations, the actual on-the-ground results are quite different. In 2016, commercially logged stands experienced decreased resistance to bark beetle mortality and became the center of the outbreak.
|This photo taken in 2016 shows bark beetle mortality in the 2014 Sterling Sweeper Timber Sale.|
To read the full report:
Bark Beetles, Timber & the BLM in the Applegate Valley
To read the Executive Summary:
Executive Summary: Bark Beetles, Timber & the BLM in the Applegate Valley