Bio-control of Noxious Weeds & the Nez Perce Bio-control Center

Marvin Hanks, Biologist at the Nez Perce Bio-control Center

Over the past 200 years, several thousand foreign plant and animal species have become established in the United States. About one in seven has become invasive, pushing aside native species. An invasive species is defined as a foreign species whose introduction does, or is likely to, cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. Invasive plants, animals, and aquatic organisms have significantly reduced the economic productivity and ecological balance of U. S. agriculture and natural resources. Many of our invasive weed problems originate in Europe and Asia at a climate similar to North America and where they are not “weeds” at all; they are simply being plants as part of the natural landscape evolving through time along with their natural checks and balances.

Biological Control puts natural enemies to work against invasive pests – plant, animal or insect. Classical Biological Control of Weeds is the intentional importation and release of carefully selected natural enemies to reduce the vigor and reproductive potential of a targeted non-native weed.

Biological Control of Weeds has had an outstanding record of safely managing invasive weeds for more than 100 years. In this time, 133 weed species have been targeted, and more than 350 biological control agents have been introduced into 70 countries. Biological control of weeds is stronger globally now then ever before. One of the most important reasons for this increased support is that land and natural area managers have realized that they have few effective tools other then biological control to manage invasive /noxious weeds.

The Nez Perce Tribe Bio-control Center (NPBC) in cooperation with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, University of Idaho and U.S.D.A. Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) specializes in biocontrol of invasive/noxious weeds and rearing/providing insect “agents” to help control/manage targeted weeds. At the Center located one mile up Bever Grade south of Lapwai, Idaho biocontrol agents are reared in controlled weed gardens and greenhouse. Bio-control Agent Nurseries have been established throughout the region at invasive weed sites where the weed is being controlled and at the same time providing agent collection by the biocontrol staff for redistribution to weed sites where agents are not yet established. The biocontrol staff provides a wide range of services including assisting land owners/managers develop a weed management strategy. “We can easily inventory your weed problem to determine if biocontrol agents are already present.”

Technical Transfer Workshops (a biological control educational tool) are conducted every summer at the Center and at strategic points throughout the Pacific Northwest. Workshops generally begin at the Center in June and continue through August in correlation with biocontrol insect emergence and mating activity taking place on targeted weeds. The main focus of workshops at this point in time is on Yellow starthistle and Spotted knapweed, perennial problems of most landowners/managers throughout the region. A workshop agenda begins with a presentation outlining the history, structure and function of Biological Control of Weeds and methodology of collecting and releasing biocontrol agents. The presentation at the Center normally lasts for two-three hours in the morning with a break for lunch (provided) and then we will go to the field in the afternoon and actually collect biocontrol insects.

Workshops are limited to 30 participants; we will have a biocontrol release pre-collected for each participant to take home plus what you collect in the field.

For more information and sign up for a workshop contact Marvin Hanks, Biologist at the Nez Perce Bio-control Center, (208) 843-9374 or email Marvin at .

Legislative Update for Montana – 2007

As non-industrial and industrial landowners there are several bills and resolutions working their way through the State Legislature that may be of particular interest to you. Joint Resolution HJ0008.01 and Senate Bill SB 293.01 are outlined here.

Montana joint resolution (HJ0008.01) encourages the USDA Forest Service to require the plaintiff to post a bond in order to challenge timber sales. The basis of this resolution is the significant role that the timber industry plays in the state, employing more then 11,000 people and the role that the timber industry has played in the development of the Montana’s communities. Montana has seen a decrease in the timber harvest over the past 20 years by more then 70%, which has affected the economy and infrastructure of the state.

The resolution recognizes while there is public involvement mandated for the timber sale process on Federal ground, some individuals and groups file appeals without merit with the sole intent of delaying the timber sale indefinitely.

Recently, a District Court Judge in Montana required environmental groups to post a bond to cover the costs of delaying a timber sale. This bond requirement is similar to the bond that must be posted in Montana for appealing any timber sales on State lands.

This resolution states “Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the State of Montana:

  1. That the Forest Service be strongly urged to require that a bond be posted whenever there is a legal challenge to a timber sale.
  2. That copies of this resolution be sent to the Secretary of State to the Montana, Congressional Delegation, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and the chief of the U.S. Forest Service.”

Senate Bill SB293.01 is entitled “An act creating the Montana sustainable Forest Use Act; establishing a State policy for management of forest lands; requiring the Department of Natural Resource and Conservation to support restoration and sustainable forest management practices; requiring promotion of forest management activities within and adjacent to the wildland urban interface; and granting authority to intervene in litigation or appeals of federal forest management projects.” The short title of the bill is “Montana Sustainable Forests Use Act”.

The legislature found that the sustainable management of all forests in Montana is vital for conserving the state’s natural resources, economic value and ecological potential for the benefit of all Montanans. And, forests in Montana should be managed to maintain biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and potential to fulfill relevant ecological, economic and social functions. The legislature declared that the policy of the state is to promote the sustainable use of all forest within the state through sound management and collaboration with state, federal and private entities.

For more information concerning the bills please visit your State Legislative web sites at Montana
Look for a Washington Legislative update in a future issue of this newsletter. The Washington State Legislative web site is Washington

Community Forestry Program

The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) Community Forestry Program emphasizes the importance of planning for the future regarding public tree resources.

Northwest Management, Inc. (NMI) was recently contracted by the IDL and the Clearwater and Panhandle Lakes Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Councils to be the community forestry assistant (CFA) for North Idaho. NMI will be assisting the IDL to communicate the diverse benefits that trees provide to cities and assist communities to plan and implement sustainable local community forestry programs and projects. NMI has a Certified Arborist on staff to provide forestry assistance to cities.

Northwest Management, Inc. is responsible for the following educational projects.

  • NMI is encouraged to attend urban and community forestry (UCF) related workshops, seminars and meetings when possible to broaden the knowledge-base of community forest management and arboriculture.
  • Work with communities to apply, implement, and maintain community forestry grant projects including the Community Transportation Enhancement (CTE) grants sponsored by the Idaho Department of Transportation.
  • Provide a public inteface for questions and assistance in the community forestry setting.
  • Seek out and capitalize on outreach opportunities specific to community needs, including dissemination of Project Learning Tree materials to local community tree boards and/or others who can work with local school district contacts.

If your community is interested in developing a community forest program or would like to expand an existing program, please contact Tera King at the NMI Moscow office (208) 883-4488 ext 133 or Jim Colla at the Hayden office (208) 772-8554. You can also contact the Clearwater RC&D office at (208) 882-4960 Ext. 102 or the Panhandle Lakes RC&D office at (208) 762-4939 Ext. 115.

Tree City USA Program

As part of the community forestry program, NMI coordinates the presentation of annual Tree City USA Awards in north Idaho.

To qualify for a Tree City USA Award, a community must meet four standards each year:

  1. Have a tree committee or city forestry department
  2. Have a tree care ordinance
  3. Spend at least $2 per capita annually to maintain its tree program
  4. Proclaim and celebrate Arbor Day
  5. History of Tree City USA

It all began in 1976 as a way to help commemorate the nation’s bicentennial through a needed and lasting contribution. To develop the program, a unique partnership was formed between the USDA Forest Service, National Arbor Day Foundation and National Association of State Foresters. This partnership continues to promote the concept of continuous, systematic tree care and using awards as the incentive to help local leaders interest their community in planting trees and caring for existing trees.

Throughout the United States, Tree City USA has become the catalyst for communities to better care for their trees. The program is in its 31st year, and more than 2,700 communities, military bases and urbanized counties proudly display their Tree City USA awards.

History of Arbor Day

The first Arbor Day took place on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska. It was the brainchild of Julius Sterling Morton (1832-1902), a Nebraska journalist and politician originally from Michigan. His most important legacy is Arbor Day. Morton felt that Nebraska’s landscape and economy would benefit from the wide-scale planting of trees. He set an example himself planting orchards, shade trees and wind breaks on his own farm and he urged his neighbors to follow suit. Morton’s real opportunity, though, arrived when he became a member of Nebraska’s state board of agriculture. He proposed that a special day be set aside dedicated to tree planting and increasing awareness of the importance of trees. Nebraska’s first Arbor Day was an amazing success. More than one million trees were planted. A second Arbor Day took place in 1884 and the young state made it an annual legal holiday in 1885, using April 22nd to coincide with Morton’s birthday.

In the years following that first Arbor Day, Morton’s idea spread beyond Nebraska with Kansas, Tennessee, Minnesota and Ohio all proclaiming their own Arbor Days. Today all 50 states celebrate Arbor Day although the dates may vary in keeping with the local climate. At the federal level, in 1970, President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day. Julius Sterling Morton would be proud. Sometimes one good idea can make a real difference.


Common Forest Health Agents

Several forest health agents common to the Inland Northwest are Douglas-fir beetle, pine bark beetles, dwarf mistletoe, pine engraver beetles, fir engraver beetle, western gall rust, root diseases, stem decays, and physical damage from weather and animals. Eliminating impacts to individual trees is nearly impossible, but minimizing their scope and impact throughout a forest area is achievable. A brief description of a few insects and diseases follows.

Douglas-fir Beetle

Douglas-fir beetle outbreaks are usually initiated by catastrophic events such as blow down or winter breakage. Downed or weakened trees are attacked and beetles build up large populations. The next year, new generations emerge and attack susceptible trees in surrounding stands. Damage in standing trees is greatest in dense stands containing a high percentage of large, mature Douglas-fir.

Salvage of down or weakened Douglas-fir is a primary tool in preventing Douglas-fir beetle outbreaks. When attacks have already occurred removing standing green or faded infested trees will help reduce or prevent further damage in the area. The risk of Douglas-fir beetle damage is reduced when dense mature stands are commercially thinned.

Pine Bark Beetles

Four different pine bark beetles affect the pine trees in the Inland Northwest area—western pine beetle, mountain pine beetle, red turpentine beetle, and pine engraver beetle. The beetles generally favor trees that are water stressed. Trees can become water stressed during a drought or by having too many trees in an area (overstocked). The bark beetle bores through the bark and lays its eggs in the cambium layer between the bark and the wood; the cambium is full of sugar and nutrients that feed the larvae.

Trees killed by bark beetles can often times be recognized as red trees in the stand that appear suddenly. A tree can turn from green to red within weeks. However, other indicators of bark beetle such as pitch tubes, boring dust, or frass on the bark of the tree would have been present for months. Red trees, themselves, are usually not a forest health risk. They are an indicator of what has happened in the stand and what may happen in the future.

The western and mountain pine beetles are considered major tree killers in Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington. Both prefer trees greater than 6 inches in diameter. Trees that they attack usually die.

Root Diseases

Root diseases are the most damaging group of tree diseases. Diagnosis and identification is based on:

  • Circular groups of dead and dying trees. Root diseases tend to kill a few trees each year. Look for dying trees at the edge of a group with dead trees towards the center.
  • Thinning tree crowns. Crowns of root diseased trees fade in color, thin from the inside of the tree crown towards the edge. Diseased trees may produce a stress cone crop, though much of the seed is not viable. Young trees are killed more quickly than older ones.
  • Symptoms and signs in roots and root crowns. Trees with advanced root disease may have basal resin flow, wood discoloration and decay, and presence of fungal tissue.

Root disease is managed by promoting the establishment and growth of resistant tree species. Not all conifer species are equally susceptible to root disease. Many young stands can be grown to merchantability if disease tolerant species are favored.

Dead and dying trees can be salvaged; however, rates of disease spread and tree mortality may not be reduced. There is some evidence that partial cutting increases the rate of mortality in root-diseased stands.

Recognizing the various insects and diseases on your forest land and striving to keep forest land healthy is a worthwhile goal. Salvage of blowdown timber from last winter and springs wind events is very important. Please call Northwest Management, Inc. if you have any concerns about the health of your forestland. We can assist you in managing your property to achieve your management objectives.

Featured Professional: Brian Shiplett, 2007 Fire Season

Brian Shiplett, Chief, Bureau of Fire Management
Idaho Department of Lands
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

2007 Fire Season

The 2007 fire season on State protected (state and private) forest lands got off to an early start. On June 30 a lightning strike on the Snake river started the Dry Creek Fire which rapidly spread beyond the protection districts ability to manage and a Type II Incident Management Team had to be ordered. 5000 acres later, the team had built fire line from the Salmon River to the Snake River and controlled the fire.

Dry Creek was the first time in memory that an Incident Management team was ordered in June for a state protection district. With below normal spring precipitation, we were expecting a busy fire season, but even in a bad year fire problems generally wait until after the 4th of July!

Dry Creek was no sooner put into patrol status when a lightning storm on the 13th of July started three fires on the Snake that rapidly burned together to become the Chimney Complex. Once again a Type II team was ordered to provide management. The fire burned over 50,000 acres and forced the evacuation of the communities of Waha and Redbird. Fortunately, no homes were lost.

The night of July 18th yet another lightning storm on the Snake, and another large fire, Poe Cabin. By morning it was burning on State protection and Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Protection, and threatening Nez Perce National Forest Lands. Due to the complexities of multiple jurisdiction, a Type I Incident Management Team was ordered. As the team was being briefed in Grangeville, the fire spotted across the hydrologic divide into the Salmon River and grew rapidly. A number of homes were threatened in Deer Creek, and one outfitter lost all of his ranch buildings. Before the fire was controlled on state and private lands, homeowners in Getta Creek and Twin Rivers Subdivision had to be evacuated. The fire has burned over 57,000 acres (on all ownerships) to date, and continues to burn in the rugged Seven Devils wilderness.

A fire start in logging slash southwest of St. Maries on a windy day brought us the Echo Springs Fire. Multiple homes were threatened and evacuated in and around Cherry Creek and Shay Hill, a Type II team was ordered. Before it could get in place, the team was diverted to a fire on the Bitterroot National Forest. The Northern Rockies Coordination Center said on a conference call we had “got lucky” and caught the fire. John Specht, IDL Operations and Safety Specialist, responded; “you make your own luck when you order multiple strike teams of dozers”. The fire burned 525 acres of valuable forest land, but no homes were lost.

All other fires on IDL protection have been managed by local forces. This year, to date, we have fought 239 fires, and burned 62,944 acres. Compare that to a twenty year average of 296 fires, and 8,238 acres. The record temperatures coupled with drought have taken their toll on Idaho’s State and Private forest lands this year.

2007 Wildland Fire Season and NMI’s Fuels Management Program

The US Forest Service manages more than 192 million acres across the U.S. The agency has estimated that 73 million acres of this land and 59 million acres of privately owned forest land are at high risk of ecologically destructive wildland fire.

Once again in 2007 Wildland Fire has had a major impact on human life, property, and habitat. Some landowners have lost an economic resource that will not be regained in their lifetime, while others have lost a cherished landscape. Also to be considered is the financial cost to suppress the fires and the resources availability to fight the fires.

The National Interagency Fire Center located in Boise, Idaho records the number of Wildland Fires and acres burned annually in the United States.

Date Fires Acres
(1/1/07 – 9/19/07)
70,546 8,064,011
2003 – 2007
(5 year average)
64,511 6,524,182

It is estimated over 2 million acres have burned in Idaho alone in 2007. And the fire season in the United States is not over for 2007.

NMI offers many services relating to wildland fire. Our staff is experienced in pre-suppression which includes training and fire mitigation planning before a wildfire occurs. We have been involved in writing FEMA approved fire mitigation plans for various counties in Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Oregon and we have participated with other organizations to work with homeowners for protection of their homes from wildfire through project planning and layout, and conducting on-site inspections of fire hazards to homes.

NMI is also involved in fire suppression which includes inspection of independent individuals and their equipment for the US Forest Service, as well as NMI being dispatched to a wildfire with our own personnel and equipment.

NMI personnel are certified through the US Forest Service, Northern Region Coordinating Group (NRCG) to train in Wildland Fire and Prescribed Fire Management. During 2007, NMI trained 400 individuals for various levels of wildland firefighting.

NMI wildland fire personnel and engines to date have accumulated 165 days on wildland fires in Arizona, California, Idaho and Montana.
Native American Tribes, small private landowners, and large Corporations have called our office after a wildland fire has impacted their property. Our services after a wildfire may include: expert witness in court cases, cruise inventory, GIS mapping, boundary determination, timber harvest options, log marketing, rehabilitation and planting.

NMI provides a fuel management program of over 100,000 acres in Idaho, Washington, Montana, Wyoming and other western states. In addition to the above mentioned services, NMI writes prescribed burn plans and implements broadcast, underburning and pile burning for large acreages. Many landowners have used our fuel management services and include universities, private companies, large industrial, small family forest landowners, and Native American Tribes.

Please call our offices and learn what can be done to protect your property from wildfire or rehabilitate your property after a wildfire.

Featured Professional: Carol Ann Wassmuth, A Written Statement of Values

A Written Statement of Values

CarolAnn Wassmuth, Monastery of St. Gertrude
Cottonwood, Idaho

The increasing number of attendees at landowner conferences and field days is a positive indication that forest owners are taking seriously their responsibility to be wise stewards of their woodlands. They come eager to learn from the professionals what the latest science is telling them they need to do to maintain the health and productivity of their forests. They leave with new ideas on how best to interact with the ecosystem present on their property for the benefit of all its inhabitants. Good forest management depends upon knowing and implementing these “whats” and “hows”.

I would like to suggest that we also consider the “whys”. This means reflecting upon and articulating your values as they pertain to the ownership of land. Since these are your personal convictions, no one else can do it for you. To put these deeply held beliefs into words may be a challenge but well worth the effort especially if you are sharing ownership with others, e.g. spouse, siblings, children, business partners. The final statement must be acceptable to everyone involved.

What is the advantage of having a written statement of your values as a landowner? It will help you maintain integrity as you manage your land. These personal values are the reason behind the objectives you list in your management plan. Consultants and contractors would know exactly what you believe about your responsibility in regard to this forestland and would be clear on how you expect them to carry out the duties for which you have hired them. A common statement of purpose provides a foundation for discussion of land use among co-owners. As land is passed on to another generation there would be no doubt as to your convictions.

Fifteen years ago the Sisters at the Monastery of St. Gertrude undertook the process of putting into words what we believed concerning our ownership of land. It was a time consuming process since there were 90 members in the community and we couldn’t quit until everyone was willing to personally own the statement. We titled the finished document our “Philosophy of Land Use”. In it we expressed our understanding that land was both a resource and a responsibility. We recognized our close connection as a community to this particular acreage and made a commitment to treat it with reverence and care. We identified how caring for this land and sharing it with guests and retreatants was a core ministry of ours. The statement has become our guiding document as we make decisions concerning our interaction with the land.

Because we are a religious community of women we used faith words to express our convictions. As you compose your statement of values the important thing is that you use the words that best say what it is you believe. It may involve serious conversation with others who share the responsibility of ownership and, consequently, takes time and energy. Both the process of composing the statement and the final document are important as you continue in your commitment to wise forest management.

Sister Carol Ann Wassmuth

Site Index – What is it?

By: Thomas Richards, Northwest Management, Inc.

Foresters and landowners have evaluated land quality by observing the trees growing on a forest land for many years. From these observations they knew that tall trees generally indicated favorable soil and climate or areas with a relatively high potential, and that short trees indicated an area with less potential.

Site indexes and site classes are refinements of these observations that have been developed by foresters in order to classify or rank the productivity of forest lands. These indexes are productivity rankings used for management decision making, tax classification, and also for land-use planning and zoning.

Non industrial forestland owners need site classification information for the same reasons as other larger forest landowners, managers, and government officials. Site Index is the most common unit of measurement for potential productivity of forest land in the western United States. Site index is the total height to which dominant (tallest) trees of a given species will potentially grow on a given site at some index age, typically 50 or 100 years in the interior west. For example, if it is found that a particular tract of forestland has a site index for Douglas fir of 70 feet at 50 years, then we expect Douglas fir seedlings planted on that site today to be 70 feet tall in 50 years.

Site index reflects the combined effects of climate and soil on tree height growth. In general, poor sites with correspondingly low site index are found in areas with colder/drier climates and associated with soils that have limited ability to provide trees with necessary water and nutrients.

Site indexes usually are estimated for a single species although they can be calculated for any several species for any parcel of land. A property may be capable of growing grand fir, western larch, and Douglas-fir and since each of these species grows at a different rate, each one will its own site index based on its height at a given age.

Uses for site index

A forestland owner who plans to buy or sell forest land or who wants to quantify the yields and economic returns of various forest practices should consider utilizing site index. The index is an important basis for calculating and projecting future growth of forest products and for estimating harvest volumes and income at some future point in time.

Also, tax systems that require productivity to be assessed or that assign values to forest land have their foundations in site index. Recently, in some areas of the West, site index has become the basis for some land-use planning and zoning in an attempt to preserve the best forestland available for forest uses.

Site index can be calculated with reasonable accuracy for virtually any commercial tree species. A landowner should consult a professional forester to evaluate the site indexes for the tree species on a particular property. Site index information is also included in many of the comprehensive soil surveys completed within the last few years or in progress in many counties.