Share |

Alarming news on pinon pine die-off

Quick links to: New Mexico | Colorado | Arizona | Nevada

New Mexico

12/09/2004-  Free New Mexicican
Bark-beetle infestations that have killed millions of piņons in New Mexico over the last three years seem to be subsiding, foresters say. Aerial surveys in September identified 122,380 acres of piņon infested with ips beetles -- less than one-sixth the 770,816 acres infested a year earlier. "The levels are back down to the levels they were at prior to last year, which is still higher than normal, but it's not as bad as last year," said Todd Haynes of the state Forestry Division. If the trend continues, he said, beetle populations should "crash." Maps developed from the September flyovers show active beetle .
3/15/2004-  KRQU
The beetles wrecked pinon trees in 2003, and Santa Fe's integrated pest-control specialist Fabian Chavez says there's potential for a much larger flight of beetles this year. Casey Ryan has property about 10 miles southeast of Santa Fe.He says he uses permethrin to treat his pinons and has not lost one to beetles.

The Forestry Division projects that about 90 percent of the pinon trees in Santa Fe are going to be gone in 10 years.
Mountains near Albuquerque are experiencing 90 percent pinon die-off   link
Boston Globe Forestry officials predict that 85 percent to 90 percent of the pinon, a slow-growing evergreen, will perish this year even with good precipitation. Things are bad enough to where many areas around Santa Fe, Los Alamos, and the Sandia Mountains near Albuquerque are experiencing 90 percent pinon die-off. "If we don't have a cold enough winter to kill the bark beetles, it's hard to say when this will end."
Comment Pinon Penny: "Don't worry it's natural is a very silly." Watch for "spin" when reading
 Albuquerque Tribune, NM -
Terry Rogers, an entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service in Albuquerque, said 4 million pinons have died around Cochiti Pueblo.Now, the beetle hordes are pushing their invasion south, into Placitas and the mountains east of Albuquerque. Those red-hued trees splashed throughout the Sandias are the product of beetle assaults, not the onset of autumn.

Santa Fe El Norte
The family tradition -- repeated throughout Northern New Mexico decades ago with camping trips and picnics -- is fading as the trees are weakened by drought and ravaged by bark beetles."Now we don't have anything to pass along to our kids and our grandchildren," Lucero said
COMMENTARY:Feb 3, 2004
According to statewide surveys, there are only a quarter as many pinon jays in New Mexico today as there were in 1968. Before this ecological meltdown, pinon jay populations were in serious decline.
Comment Pinon Penny: This is important as the seed is spread by the jays. With Jays and seed declining, expasion of pinon range is hard to envision.
 Ground Water

We've been able to document the contamination of groundwater in certain areas because agriculture methods have pushed the nitrate down."

Take for example the millions of forest acres in Arizona and New Mexico that are, quite literally, drying up. Whole forests of pinyon and ponderosa pines are dying of thirst due to drought.

"These are tree species that have been there 10,000 years, since the last Ice Age," Fagre said. "None of us ever thought you'd have whole forests just die flat-out from drought, but that's what's happening."

(And even if desert dwellers are not real concerned with the fate of pinyon pines, it might be a good idea to pay attention to the drought that's killing them. Understanding the system could inform decisions such as the ongoing debate over whether to allow a developer to build 60,000 homes on 19,000 acres of Arizona desert.)



Monumental" bark beetle epidemic could kill 80% of Arizona's 11 million acres of ponderosa and piñon pine forests as warming weather doubles the length of the beetles' reproductive season. According to the Daily Courier, the U.S. Forest Service estimates at least 5 million ponderosa pines have been killed over an estimated 508,000 acres in Arizona - larger than the state's massive wildfire last summer - and as many pinon pines have also probably been killed. With one bark beetle able to spawn 600 million more in just five more generations, their numbers increase 50-fold every six to eight weeks. Warm weather has allowed their reproduction season to double because it is now lasting a month longer on each end of the usual season - from April through October and even part of November, instead of from May through September. The final result of the epidemic could be "monumental," killing trees in as much as 80% of Arizona's 11 million acres of ponderosa and pinon pine forests.

It appears the San Carlos Apache Reservation is facing the worst kill, at 111,000 acres, followed by 110,000 acres on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and then 75,000 acres on the Prescott National Forest, said John Anhold, an entomologist and U.S. Forest Service forest health group leader for the Arizona zone.

Forest service scientists began spotting the bark beetle infestation last summer during a regular aerial survey of federal lands. They were stunned by the scope of the destruction, which spread across more than 500,000 acres, as much as or more than the "Rodeo-Chediski" fire.
 The area affected by the beetles had grown by 600 percent, and the number of dead trees had increased by 300 percent. Anhold now estimates conservatively that the beetles have killed 2 million ponderosa and piñon pine trees, but he admits the figure is probably closer to 4 million. In some areas outside Flagstaff, the beetles have claimed entire stands of piñon pines, a nearly 100 percent mortality rate.
The damage spreads across the Coconino, Tonto, Prescott and Apache-Sitgreaves national forests, an area covering more than 2.5 million acres. Especially hard hit are slopes near Prescott and near Pine and Strawberry. In one 40-square-mile swath southeast of Flagstaff, foresters estimate 700,000 piñon pines have died.
Shaun McKinnon
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 21, 2003


Pestilence is bearing down on Colorado's forests as drought continues to cling to much of the state, according to a state report on forest health. The beetle outbreak in southwestern Colorado could kill 80 percent of the pinons there before the infection recedes, state forester Jim Hubbard said. "We will lose most of our pinons due to this infestation and will have to start over," he said. Link
Montrose Press 3/07/04
This isn't a maintenance type of disturbance," Garvey said about the Forest Service's ability to respond to the die-back. "It's resetting the clock, which doesn't happen very frequently."
Sixty plots located on federal lands in Colorado showed a 27 percent overall mortality in pinyon stands. The die-back is too massive to contain, said John Moore, a planner with the National Fire Plan assigned to the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison national forests.
"When you're in an epidemic situation, trying to do something on a landscape scale is not practical or feasible," said Moore, who is based at the GMUG headquarters in Delta. "The horse is already out of the barn." Comment Pinon Penny: This is an objective article,. Two thumbs up, 
The Ips beetle has killed an estimated 1 million trees, up to 80 percent of pinon forests in some areas, according to the report. Trees as far north as Colorado Springs and Glade Park are on the edge of the damage. Link
Cold not taking bite out of Ips beetle: Dolores and Montezuma counties are seeing similar kills, with up to 90 percent of the pinyons in the area killed by the beetles. The area around Montrose has seen some Ips activity, mainly in a swath starting on the Uncompahgre Plateau and continuing to Paonia. The area around Log Hill has also seen a number of pinyons killed by the beetle. Link
 "We have 4.2 million acres of piñons in Colorado and about 40 percent of them are infested with ips to some degree," he said. In Colorado, the Southwest and the Front Range from Colorado Springs through Cañon City to Trinidad have been the hardest hit, Leatherman said. But the ips now is putting in an appearance in Grand Junction.

Probably no one alive has seen such an infestation of ips beetles in Colorado," he said. "But we're the tip of the iceberg." The infestation extends to California through the Southwest, including New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Nevada.

 1 million: Trees killed by the piñon ips beetle in the southern Front Range and southwestern Colorado in 2003.

250,000: Lodgepole and ponderosa pine trees killed by pine beetles in 2003, down from 450,000 in 2001 and 350,000 in 2002.

200,000: Trees killed by the spruce beetle near Rabbit Ears Pass in 2002.

863,000: Trees killed by the western balsam bark beetle on 344,600 acres. No figures for 2003 are available.

• Other tree loss from white pine blister rust, banded elm bark beetle, oak borers and Douglas fir beetle.


"They belong here. They're adapted to dry conditions. When they start showing stress, they're telling you there's more stress than usual." Tree experts are trying to determine what is killing off hundreds of pinons, the state tree of Nevada Kelly Redmond, climatologist with the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno. Link
CARSON CITY, Nev. -- For thousands of years, American Indians carefully tended stands of pinyon pines in Nevada. The Washoe people would gather nuts in the Pine Nut Mountains and use them throughout the year to toast and make powder, stews and salves. Link
Bureau of Land Management officials Wednesday evening outlined a proposed tree-thinning project in the Pine Nut Mountains seven miles east of Carson City, saying the action would prevent the threat of a major fire in the region. The plan, involving the mechanical shredding of pinyon and juniper trees and brush in a 500-acre section of public land, is part of a nationwide effort to identify high-risk, fire-prone areas and find suitable methods of treatment.

So what we're really talking about is a maintenance project. Pinyon pines and junipers are again encroaching on the area and are threatening to dominate. We want to take a pro-active approach and prevent a major problem from developing,'' Roide said during an open house at the agency's Carson City headquarters.

Agency officials say the area was cleared about 40 years ago, and vegetation, including trees, has been growing back. They say maintaining it as grasses and shrubs would reduce the intensity if a fire does break out... Link
The Bureau of Land Management Carson City field office, 5665 Morgan Mill Road, is set to hold an open house from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. for input on a fuels reduction project on 500 acres of public land in the Pine Nut Mountains east of Carson City. The proposed project area is located in the north central portion of the Pine Nut Mountains east of Brunswick Canyon. Treatment proposed is to mechanically shred young pinyon and juniper trees and brush with tractor-mounted mechanized equipment in about 500 acres of the 1,000-acre project area. For information or to submit written comments, e-mail or write BLM-Carson City Field Office, attention Tim Roide, 5665 Morgan Mill Road, Carson City NV, 89701. Link
Back to top | Home page | Site Index | Email us
Coming Soon
 Pinon Myths and Mainstream Media

Dr. Little saw the pinon system crises in the mid 1970's per observations on mono-culture land use.

Share |