In the late 70's and through the 80's a pine beetle "epidemic" killed hundreds of thousands of acres of old decrepit Targhee N.F. lodgepole

It was the same story in adjoining areas of Yellowstone National Park. After decades of wide spread application of fire suppression technology in order to keep alive all existing trees/forest the mean population aged way beyond what is normal, natural, or healthy, thus the pine beetle infestation killed much of the old and vulnerable population. The vibrant young and middle aged stands endured. The Forest Service (my employer) began systematic harvesting of the old and/or diseased stands. This was accomplished via free firewood cutting and traditional saw timber methods that coincided with the standup of a somewhat innovative stud mill. The National Park Service remained mostly in fire suppression mode, for awhile. Some of you may remember the Yellowstone fires of 1988.

Seeing the pines rebound from the fires is still an amazing part of the trip.


Are you saying that Corona virus is simply weeding out the old and vulnerable population? I’m over 60 and immuno-compomised and I am not ready to to go.


Yes. Corona virus is cleaning out the old. FYI I’m also over 60.

The beetles are a part of the ecosystem that come around and affect the trees every couple hundred years. The forests have always bounced back from it. Climate change may affect that bounce-back.

The Uintahs are affected with the beetle now. I keep hearing that the forest should be clear cut because “it’s a tinder box” but live evergreens are more flammable than dead ones. The sap in pine needles is highly flammable. Sure dead wood burns but when you see video of a forest fire, it’s the live trees that have flames shooting 80 feet in the air and the fire spreads much easier amount live evergreen trees than dead ones.


Side note, how does the beetle infestation have an infestation cycle measured in ‘every couple hundred years.’? That is absolutely fascinating. It must be one generation in a thousand that goes through the massive infestation cycle.

Knowing very little about this other than there is a beetle infestation going through most of the pines in the Uintas and Wasatch Mountains and spending a lot of time there; it is pretty fascinating to see all trees under a certain height be just fine and all trees over a certain height be dead. Beetles actually came through my neighborhood and did the same to a lot of the pine trees here - big tall trees all died, those under whatever height all seemed to have survived.

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That must have something to do with the structure of the tree itself? The beetles aren’t working only at a certain distance above the ground, they attack the entire tree.

It would be interesting to know their preference.

I think as Ultimate Ute mentioned above it has to do with the age of the tree… so the dead trees are all dead, not just dead on the tops or whatever, but you’ll definitely see seemingly perfectly healthy trees right in the middle of a whole bunch of dead ones.

This is a picture I found that isn’t atypical at all -

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While on the subject of forestry, although pop culture main stream media might have convinced you otherwise, wildfires used to burn MUCH MORE of the West, in the days before we created a massive fire suppression industrial complex.


If forests don’t occasionally burn, they get sick - just like people.

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