2008-07-15

Pine beetle threat grows in the West

Amy Gannon, hatchet in hand, sliced a slab of bark from a lodgepole pine tree near Wolf Creek, Mont., and quickly spotted a mountain pine beetle larvae no bigger than her pinky fingernail.

"This tree's done for," said Gannon, an entomologist with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

As wildfires roar through tinder-dry forests in California, the mountain pine beetle is silently killing even more trees — hundreds of thousands of acres of towering trees, mostly lodgepole pine, according to Robert Mangold, director of Forest Health Protection for the U.S. Forest Service.