Forest Health Program
Gina Davis - Forest Health and Stewardship Program Manager
Tom Eckberg - Forest Health Specialist
Stephani Sandoval - Gypsy Moth Data Coordinator
Address/Phone/Fax: Idaho Department of Lands, Coeur d'Alene Staff Office, 3284 West Industrial Loop, Coeur d'Alene ID 83815; phone (208) 769-1525; fax (208) 769-1524
Or contact one of our 10 Area Offices throughout Idaho
>> 2012 Aerial Detection Survey Map - posted March 13, 2013
>> A Field Guide to Diseases & Insect Pests of Northern & Central Rocky Mountain Conifers [See Additional Information and Forms - this page]
(photo left) 2006 damage caused by Douglas-fir Beetle - Eastern Idaho [click on photo for larger view]
The mission of the forest health program is to provide technical service, training and financial assistance designed to minimize insect and disease risk and hazard. We define risk as the probability that a given stand will become infested with a specific pest. The intensity of damage is a measure of hazard. In terms of bark beetles, hazard increases as stands age and density increases.
Forest health should be the primary focus of the best management of forest lands. Healthy forests produce a wealth of services, including timber, water and air quality, wildlife, resiliency to fire and recreation. The program focuses on three core activities: Prevention, Suppression and Restoration.
Prevention is the best means to ensure your forest can withstand stress and subsequent pest infestation. Treatments having a prevention focus result in reduction of risk and hazard; thinning dense stands, applying preventative chemical barriers, pruning and favoring existing tree species most resistant to forest pests are good examples.
Suppression activities are used to mitigate existing outbreaks. Treatments typically include removing infested trees and killing insects and diseases with chemicals.
Restoration activities are used to re-establish species to a site that was ravaged previously by pest outbreaks. Planting is the most common treatment used in restoration efforts.
(photo right) 2006 Western Spruce Budworm infestation - Eastern Idaho [click on photo for larger view]
Insects and diseases play an important role in maintaining the health and vitality of Idaho’s forests. Under normal circumstances these organisms recycle dead trees to the forest floor providing nutrients to the next generation of trees. Drought, fire exclusion and poor management practices have created stressful conditions that are favorable to extensive outbreaks of forest pests, tipping this balance. If threats from native pests were not enough, Idaho faces serious risks from exotic pests such as gypsy moth and white pine blister rust.
Regardless of its cause, national climate data suggests much of the western US has warmed almost 2°F and become drier over the last century. With temperatures expected to rise from 4 to 12°F over the next century, we can expect stressors to increase dramatically in our forests. Insects and diseases, for instance, will respond favorably to climate change. Because they are cold blooded, we can expect better insect survival, shorter life cycles, and more generations per season, leading to higher insect populations. Higher populations, in turn, will add pressure to our increasingly climate-stressed forests, possibly increasing catastrophic tree losses from insect outbreaks and wildfires.
There may be a silver lining to this bleak picture. By actively managing our forests to promote tree species diversity and, at the same time aggressively managing stands to reduce tree density and age, we will build a forest that may be able to withstand the combined ravages of climate, fire and pests.
• Why are Some Forests Clearcut? An Article by the Idaho Forest Products Commission^ Top of page
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