South Carolina Forestry Commission |
(COLUMBIA, SC) - South Carolinaís battle against the southern pine beetle is getting reinforcements from two strong allies. Governor Jim Hodges has activated the powerful Governorís Forest Disaster Salvage Council, and the Forestry Commission has launched a new federally-funded beetle control program.
The Salvage Council, a blue-ribbon group of representatives from public and private forestry interests, will work to develop commercial outlets for the huge amount of beetle-killed timber now glutting the market. Commercial harvest provides a double benefit: the source of the infestation is removed, and landowners get a cash return on their timber.
Over the last three years, beetles have killed about $280 million of South Carolina timber, and the losses continue to grow. According to Forestry Commission estimates, more than 90% of that dead timber is now being left in the woods to rot.
Foresters say that when commercial salvage is either impossible or impractical, the federally-funded "cut and leave" program can help forest landowners stop a beetle attack from spreading. This approach involves cutting all trees that are obviously infested with living beetles. In addition, an adjacent buffer strip of green trees is also cut as an insurance measure.
The trees are left lying on the ground and as they dry, beetle eggs and larvae die from lack of moisture. Experts say that if correctly applied, the cut and leave technique is about 85% effective in stopping the spread of the beetle.
Forestry Commission scientist Andy Boone said the cut and leave program provides funds for treating small infestations in forests owned by non-industrial private landowners. The program will be available through October, and will start again next May if the beetle epidemic continues. Boone emphasized that the program does not apply to infestations on residential, urban, or other developed properties.
For information on how to apply for cut and leave funding, contact the local office of the SC Forestry Commission.
For more information, contact: Ken Cabe, 803-896-8820