Beetle fight wages on for 2nd year
The parasite has plagued the Black Hills forest for decades. The Memorial’s forester, Mark Ziolkowski, has historic records indicating a sweeping beetle infestation between 1895 and 1908 claimed 1.5 billion feet of timber in the region.
Mark’s four-man contracting crew cut more than 20,000 ponderosa pines around the Crazy Horse grounds last year and will cut at least another 14,000 trees this year. The current logging focuses on trees killed by the beetles since August 2011.
Meanwhile, the insecticide spraying crew from Evergreen Tree Care of Colorado Springs, Colo., returned in late April. The diluted chemical soaking of approximately 2,200 trees around the visitor complex aims to protect that stand from the beetles’ encroachment.
Such spraying can protect living trees for about a year. Despite the expense, Memorial President-CEO Ruth Ziolkowski said there are no good alternatives for the award-winning certified tree farm at Crazy Horse.
“I think the spraying may be the only thing that is going to save the trees,” she said. “The only reason we are continuing to cut the infested trees and clean the dead timber and brush piles on the ground is to reduce the fuel for a forest fire.”
The year’s early record-breaking warm, dry conditions increased potential for wildfires. The Memorial is surrounded by the Black Hills National Forest, which also is plagued with the beetle infestation.