State Forester Greg Josten says there has been major progress in Custer State Park, where the number of infested trees decreased from 100,000 in 2012 to 30,000 last year. But state officials remain concerned about high tree mortality rates at Sylvan Lake, where 23,000 trees were recently infested. [KELO teevee]Creeks that haven’t flowed in the Black Hills for decades are running because 400 square miles of ponderosa pine have been turned by the bark beetle from transpiring millions of acre/feet of water into standing methane generators. Looks like natural selection from this 60-year observer of the Anthropocene; the Arkansas and Platte are at bank full in mid-July for the same reason.
In the Black Hills, Weyerhaeuser analogue, Neiman Enterprises is taking the last of the old growth ponderosa pine in the name of insect control and taking federal dollars to do it while the small diameter trees are left standing. Massive piles of slash littering the forest preside over skidder trails that slice up hillsides.
Multiple mycology surveys reveal disrupted, cattle-infested tree farms where humanity has destroyed whatever remains of the preceding 11,000 years of indigenous and ungulate management. Multiply that by the countless watersheds that European immigration destroyed in the United States and Canada by the number of those exploited in the name of disaster capitalism.
The latest trip through the Hills shows the Central Hills bug kill has yet to peak, Rapid City and Vanocker Canyon seeing new eruptions. Despite its efforts to stem the bark beetle Lawrence County is probably ground zero for ponderosa pine elimination right now. Weston and Crook County, Wyoming seeing large die-offs.
Sturgis underway, fire officials have been put on alert as fuels dry.