Death of Sylvan trees appalling
Published: Thursday, September 12th, 2013
I first heard the giant old trees on the north shore of Sylvan Lake were dead from Matt Fridell via his Dad, Hank. Many of us who heard the news in Custer last week held our breath. Please don’t let it be as bad as it sounds.
Hank went up first, the point man for many other Custerites, to see it and document it and try to find the light in the darkness. His report was appalling. Losses of the big trees on the north shore are astounding.
Last month the governor announced Custer State Park officials have been very successful in their efforts to blunt beetle attacks in the park and it was good to hear. Mortality was down from over 100,000 trees, big trees, in 2011 to just over 40,000 trees in 2012.
Park officials including Doug Hofer deserve credit for their efforts and so does state forester Ray Sowers and his staff. They have worked hard for over a decade to thin trees, remove newly dead trees and do what they can.
It has been the height of frustration to be a neighbor to the Forest Service the past decade in the Norbeck area, especially of the neighborhood is the Black Elk Wilderness. The Forest Service and particularly Forest supervisor Craig Bobzien have done all they can, which is considerable. But it couldn’t be enough.
As Wilderness Society board members pointed out to Forest officials several years ago, the Wilderness Act specifically allowed Forest Service officers to fight fire and mountain pine beetle attacks in wilderness as part of the enabling legislation, but years of agency policy development and regulations make it almost impossible to do, and, besides, who wants to log the wilderness? They didn’t do it in 1906 and they didn’t do it in 2006. Imagine trying to pull those big trees out of those deep ravines.
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