Sunday, April 16, 2017

Bimbo Noem says humans stopped pine beetle outbreak. Uh, no.



The collapse of the Black Hills ponderosa pine monoculture was forecast as early as 2002 but now bug counters at the Black Hills National Forest are saying its bark beetle outbreak has peaked although dry grasses still plague the region.
We could, and should, burn large areas of the forest at least every five to 10 years, but we won’t be able to do that, either, at least not on purpose. Large areas will burn, right down to the ground, in summer fires like those of the past decade. We’ll plant new trees and the cycle will begin again. Pines grow best in open stands with grass or brush underneath. Beetles and fires like dense trees. The pine forests of the Black Hills will continue as they always have, despite our best efforts. [Frank Carroll]
Restoration means all the above: fire, bark beetle, and the thinning critical for water supplies that ultimately help conifers defend themselves against anthropogenic climate disruptions while stimulating the growth of hardwoods like aspen.

Noem's tweet is an embrace of Carbaryl (1-naphthyl methylcarbamate), a white crystalline solid commonly sold under the brand name Sevin®, a trademark of the Bayer Group. When that photo was taken remains a mystery.

While lodgepole pine is native to the Black Hills, ponderosa pine only reached the Hills and northern Rockies about a thousand years ago; but, under orders from timber monopolist, Neiman Enterprises (a Noem donor), a Colorado contractor working for the Black Hills National Forest, is spraying Carbaryl on ponderosa pine trees.
"This is a little early. We usually wait until the later part of April," said Black Hills National Forest timber planner Blaine Cook. "But we want to get these recreation sites sprayed because our campground hosts come in and they want to get ready for the tourism season." This year the spray crew will hit 3,700 trees at 28 locations across the Black Hills, most of them at campgrounds and recreation sites, along with a few U.S. Forest Service administrative centers. [Kevin Woster, KELO teevee]
The toxin kills beneficial insects like honeybees as well as crustaceans not to mention its havoc wreaked on fungal communities and amphibians. Sevin® is often produced using methyl isocyanate the chemical that Union Carbide used to kill thousands of people in Bhopal, India.

The deadly chemicals migrate easily into waterways then into groundwater. Bayer CropScience is in court after studies ordered by the US Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that another Bayer pesticide is too toxic for wildlife to keep on the market.

EPA has found that 97% of endangered species are threatened by pesticides like Carbaryl. The Black Hills is home to the threatened northern long-eared bat, the American dipper and the black-backed woodpecker that feeds on bark beetles.

Lodgepole tends to be logged for post, pole and oriented strand board (OSB); ponderosa pine, Douglas Fir and Engelmann Spruce tend to be logged for lumber.

Lodgepole pine and Douglas Fir have been extirpated from the Black Hills for nearly a century: the oldest aspen was virtually logged out during European settlement; yet, tiny stands of old-growth ponderosa pine can still be found in the Hills.

Ponderosa pine contains a much higher level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than many other cone-bearing trees and tends to be more explosive in wildfire conditions especially when under drought stress. Beetle-affected trees are pockmarked with 'pitchouts' that burst into flames during wildfires and torch more readily.

The mountain pine beetle is hard at work clearing centuries of overgrowth throughout the Rocky Mountain Complex, so is the western spruce budworm and the spruce beetle. But leaving dead or dying conifers on the forest produces methane, an even more dangerous greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide is.

Voters can expect South Dakota's earth hater congressional delegation to do the bidding of their donors and put lots of pork in the next farm bill.

Water supplies are critical this year as human-caused climate disruptions reduced snowpack in the Black Hills. Insects and fire are critical to reversing the ravages of conifer overgrowth on the Rocky Mountain West.

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