The U.S. Forrest Service estimates that spruce bark beetles have damaged 52,000 acres on the Kenai Peninsula this year alone. The periodic, tree-killing bugs have been on a growth cycle the last three years and the University of Alaska Cooperative Extension Service is at the forefront of the battle against them.
Jessie Moan is a forest health expert in the integrated pest management office of the Extension Service, which plans a meeting in Kenai next week, along the lines of similar workshops in Palmer and Houston in the Mat-Su Borough.
“There’s general questions about management on personal property, but also kind of as communities how we’re viewing all of the trees in our geographic area, whether we own that property or not, and things like that," she said. "So some good conversation and questions about how we’re all kind of responding to some of the issues that we’re seeing in the forest.”
Moan says the workshop will discuss the resources available to homeowners with concerns over beetle infestation on their property.
“So we’re going to talk about some of the basics, like what the beetles are, what they do," she said. "How to identify infested trees through signs and symptoms, and then offer information on management — both forest-scale management options as well as individual tree protection.”
And protection is the key, because once a tree is infested, it’s lost.
“If a tree is already infested, unfortunately then the option would be to remove it. But also to process that material in a way that protects other trees in the area," Moen said. "So when you have an infested tree, you do want to consider all the other trees that might be around it, and how you can protect them if they are not already infested.”
The meeting is Nov. 8 from 6-to-8 p.m. in the Cook Inlet Aquaculture building.