The U.S. Forest Service and Wyoming State Forestry Division have announced the results of the annual aerial forest health survey for Wyoming. Both the mountain pine beetle and spruce beetle epidemics have declined across Wyoming in 2012. Statewide the number of new acres affected by the mountain pine beetle has declined from 719,000 in 2011 to 180,000 acres in 2012. The total footprint of the outbreak in Wyoming is now 3.4 million acres since 1996. In 2011, the total acreage for the epidemic was 3.3 million acres.
“Our actions today and in years to come will shape the forest of the future. Active forest management on both public and private lands can lead to healthier trees on the landscape and create the diversity necessary to reduce future large-scale insect epidemics.” said Bill Crapser, Wyoming State Forester.
Mountain Pine Beetle:
In western Wyoming, including the Shoshone, Wasatch-Cache and Bridger-Teton national forests, mountain pine beetle activity has declined from 280,000 in 2011 to 83,000 acres in 2012 in lodgepole and 5-needle pines largely due to fewer trees available for beetle infestation.
In north central Wyoming, including the Bighorn National Forest, large areas of forest remain unaffected by mountain pine beetle. In 2012, only 440 acres of mountain pine beetle activity was detected.
Northeast Wyoming, including the Black Hills National Forest, mountain pine beetle activity continues with aerial photograph interpretation detecting 730 acres additional acreage from 2011’s survey.
Spruce beetle activity has declined from 76,000 in 2011 to 32,000 acres in 2012 statewide. Since 1996, 558,000 acres have been affected by spruce beetle statewide leaving many areas of large dead standing spruce in the high country.
In south central Wyoming, the spruce beetle epidemic is declining leaving large areas of dead standing large spruce in the Sierra Madre, Snowy Range, and Medicine Bow Mountains in Albany and Carbon counties.
In northwestern Wyoming’s Absaroka Mountains in and adjacent to the Shoshone National Forest, spruce beetle continues to kill spruce and many areas have few surviving mature spruce remaining.
The 2012 aerial survey results for Wyoming can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/r2.