Repelling Mountain Pine Beetle with Verbenone

By: Devin Healy, Forester, Northwest Management, Inc.

Spring is almost here and with spring comes the first flight of the Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) for the year. Vast swaths of North America are infected with the MPB, an estimated 2.7 million acres in Montana alone. One of the tools that land owners and managers have at their disposal to deal with this epidemic is verbenone.

Verbenone is a synthetic pheromone treatment that replicates the anti-aggregate pheromone Mountain Pine Beetles (MPB) emit when attacked trees are fully occupied. The pheromone repels beetles from further attack and encourages them to seek unoccupied host trees. Verbenone is considered to be non-toxic to humans, pets, birds and even the beetles themselves. Verbenone can be considered one tool for MPB protection. Other tools include tree spraying and long-term forest management treatments.

Results of verbonone use are highly variable. In some instances verbenone has failed to provide protection while in others verbenone has been shown to be highly effective. Some level of MPB mortality can generally be expected. Verbenone is not recommended if more than 15% of the forest stand is already infested and the infested trees cannot be removed prior to beetle flight. Results can be improved if infested trees are removed prior to the application of verbenone. Verbenone packets should be installed in mid-June. The packets can be simply nailed or stapled to trees.

There are two basic ways that verbonone is deployed, one being individual tree protection and the other being area wide. For individual tree protection use two 7- or 7.5-gram packets per tree. For larger trees (>24 inches diameter) use 3-4 packets. On smaller trees attach packets on north side of tree. On larger trees spread them on all sides. Place them 10’ high if safely possible. For area wide protection evenly distribute 20-40 pouches per acre depending on intensity of surrounding infestation. Use this as a guide for area wide distribution; 20 pouches per acre –place on 47’ grid, 30 pouches per acre – 38’ grid, and 40 pouches per acre – 33 foot grid.

It is important to remember that verbenone is not a silver bullet, particularly in areas that already have high rates of infestation. Verbenone may not be as effective if used in area with prolonged infestations if used over and over in the same stand. Verbenone is more effective when used in conjunction with silvicultural treatments.

Northwest Management, Inc. will be selling verbenone this year and orders can be placed online. For more information please visit

2009 Northwest Environmental Forum-October 28-29, 2009 Summary Part II

Eastside Forest Health Convention: Challenges and Solutions, Spokane, WA

The Northwest Environmental Forum strives to address regional environmental and natural resource issues. The School of Forest Resources is pivotal in helping regional policy makers reach decisions about sustaining natural resource productivity. Other University colleges and centers – Ocean and Fisheries Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Public Policy, Architecture and Urban Planning, Engineering, Information Sciences, Atmosphere and Oceans, Law, Business and Marine Affairs – are integral to the Forum goal.

This Part II Summary highlights the “Findings” from the Forum.

  • Eastern Washington dry forests are in a crisis condition that requires active management to restore forest health and reduce catastrophic fire danger. Problems of disease, insects, and wildfire know no boundaries and are growing increasingly worse, accelerated by climate change coupled with lack of treatment.
  • Climate change and increased fire risk are inextricably linked. A two degree Celsius rise in temperature will likely result in a 100%-200% increase in forest areas burned by wildfire.
  • Fire, disease and bugs are part of the natural forest ecology but conditions today and for the projected future are significantly outside historic norms.
  • Management prescriptions for large-scale landscapes (>5,000 acres) for ecosystem restoration should strive to mimic historic conditions of resilience and robustness – a mosaic of even and uneven-aged stands with species mix appropriate to that region. There is a high degree of comfort with the level of scientific knowledge about forest and fire ecology.
  • Achieving desired conditions requires removal of surface fuels, ladder fuels and crown fuels in conjunction with controlled understory burning.
  • Outcomes should be focused on what’s left behind (general target of 50-100 trees/ acre in uneven-aged management eastside dry forests) rather than on what is removed.
  • Treatment units should be large scale (minimum of 5,000 acres up to 50,000 acres or larger), consistent with Forest Restoration Act criteria. Forest Service stewardship treatment contracts should be at least 10-20 years in duration to allow stability of workforce; investment in infrastructure to process output materials and provide adequate time for assessment and adaptive prescriptions.
  • Federal and state management objectives for forest restoration, biodiversity and fire-resistant landscapes on dry, mesic and moist forest ecosystems should be multi-resource, landscape-scale and not oriented toward single species or stand level prescriptions.
  • Proposed entries should focus on roaded areas except under extreme forest health conditions, where such entry would require community support. At this time there is much roaded and available land to treat.
  • Reduction of catastrophic fire risk requires treatment of 25-30% of affected areas using strategically-focused actions based on USFS modeling, in conjunction with DNR and tribal forestry information. 70% or more of certain areas may need to be treated to achieve desired forest health conditions.
  • Different ownerships will require different treatment protocols (e.g. private lands will not have the same prescriptions as habitat-designated USFS land).
  • To address the scale of the current problems in areas of inter-mixed or “checkerboard” ownership, collaboration of management actions among ownerships is essential for effective forest health treatments. Authority and resources to create this necessary action space will require congressional and legislative action as well as changes in agency cultures and procedures.
  • Ecosystem Services Districts could be defined and organized based on affected landscape and communities (e.g. Santa Fe watershed example) – (“Forest Restoration and Fire Prevention Districts.”)
  • A sophisticated public information and education campaign focused on forest restorations and catastrophic fire threat reduction is essential to sustain activities at the scale and duration required to address the current and projected conditions. Effectively engaging decision makers at the local, state and federal levels is a critical part of this strategy.
  • Multi-organization coordination of research and applied science is essential.
  • Facilitated collaboration will be necessary to enable stakeholders to reach durable agreements as the necessary basis for landscape scale management.

Complete presentations and dialogues of the Northwest Environmental Forum, School of Forest Resources, University of Washington, College of the Environment can be viewed at


Western Spruce Budworm and Its Management

Western spruce budworm is an insect pest which defoliates Douglas-fir, Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir and western larch. Tree damage associated with budworm defoliation includes growth loss, top-kill, deformity, reduced seed production and tree mortality. Larger diameter trees that survive major budworm outbreaks in a weakened condition may later be killed by bark beetles. It usually tales three-five years of tree defoliation to cause top kill, reduce growth and tree mortality. Seedling and sapling-sized trees are most likely to suffer severe damage.

What to look for:

When tree shoot growth begins in May-June budworm larvae (small caterpillar) web together adjacent shoots. During July reddish brown branch tips will give trees a scorched appearance. The upper portion of the tree crown may appear bare or thin. Budworm larvae feed in buds and foliage from May-July. Older larvae have dark heads and an olive-brown body with whitish spots. Pupal cases are attached to damaged shoots. Orange to gray-brown moths less than an inch across are abundant in late July and August during an outbreak.


Natural controls include ants and birds which eat budworm larvae. Leaving woody debris on the ground for ants and snags as nesting sites for birds can help sustain populations of these predators. Other natural controls are believed to include cold, wet spring weather; viral pathogens, and lack of food following subsequent years of infestation.

Silviculture practices include maintaining or increasing tree diversity in vulnerable stands (increase the relative abundance of non-host tree species), thinning from below to create single story forest stand structures, and thinning to reduce inter-competition between trees and to increase the vigor of retention trees.

Insecticides are most effective when applied as larvae are actively feeding on new foliage in June. For large outbreaks aerial applications of Bacillus thuringensis a bacterium and the chemical insecticide carbaryl (Trade name –Sevin) are generally recommended. Ground based applications of carbaryl and Bacillus thuringensis (Bt) can be effective on smaller trees.

Bt must be eaten by the larvae to cause mortality. A protein crystal formed by the bacterium carries a toxin which is released in the gut of the larvae. When Bt is ingested the toxin is released and the midgut wall is destroyed and the larvae stops feeding. The bacteria enters the blood of the insect causing full scale infection and death of the insect within 3-5 days.

Aerial application of Bt or Sevin:

Aerial application can be accomplished with fixed wing aircraft or helicopters. Fixed wing aircraft are generally less expensive if a landing strip can be located in close proximity to the project area. The application must be timed with the emergence new foliage and presence of feeding larvae to be effective. Generally results are decreased level of defoliation but not complete elimination. Reapplication of chemical and biological treatments will likely be required during the duration of the spruce budworm outbreak. Historically, outbreaks in Montana have duration of 2-5 years. Cost of aerial treatment can vary significantly but generally range from $55-85 per acre.

NRCS Certified Technical Service Provider (TSP)

Written by: Matt Engberg, Forester, NMI

When it comes to programs sponsored by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Northwest Management, Inc. (NMI) has certified Technical Service Providers (TSP) that can answer program and cost-share questions, and write NRCS approved Conservation Activity Plans.

Technical Service Providers are individuals, entities or public agencies certified by the NRCS and placed on the approved list to provide technical services to the agency’s conservation program participants. TSPs plan, design, implement and certify conservation practices before any planning or contracting begins. NRCS and conservation districts have traditionally provided these technical services, and will continue to do so. What’s new is that USDA will reimburse producers for technical assistance provided by certified Technical Service Providers. NRCS maintains quality assurance of TSP-completed conservation practices and services on an annual basis.

Over this past year several NMI resource professionals acquired special training from the NRCS in areas that included Environmental Compliance, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as well as identification and documentation of cultural resources, all key elements in design and development for conservation planning and practice implementation. Other courses taken were a number of Conservation Planning and Forestry Planning courses, along with a TSP Orientation course, all necessary to qualify for development of Conservation Activity Plans (CAP). In general, a CAP is a specialized conservation practice(s) plan that may require a higher level of expertise than typical NRCS staff is able to provide and does not fall under the regular technical assistance provided by NRCS. Although, NMI Resource professionals write many different types of management and/or stewardship plans, the training helps the private resource professional understand all the paperwork and options involved with an NRCS contract, and how it ultimately fits together for the landowner; our mutual client with the NRCS.

NMI can help Landowners in the design, layout, implementation, and checkout of the following practices in Idaho, Washington, Montana, Oregon, Wyoming, and Colorado:

  • CAP – Forest Management Plan: All Services
  • Forestry: Forest Site Preparation, Forest Stand Improvement, Forest Trails and Landings, Prescribed Burning, Riparian Forest Buffer, Silvopasture Establishment, Tree/Shrub Establishment, Tree/Shrub Pruning, Use Exclusion
  • Prescribed Burning: Firebreak, Prescribed Burning
  • AgroForestry: Alley Cropping, Riparian Forest Buffer, Silvopasture Establishment, Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment, Windbreak/Shelterbelt Renovation

At this time NMI is one of very few private TSP’s in Idaho Certified to write an NRCS approved Conservation Activity Plan (CAP)-Forest Management Plan. There are a number of private and public agency registered TSP’s that can design, implement, and checkout practices which have been cost-shared through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) or another NRCS Program.

For more information regarding the availability of resource professionals under the TSP program contact NMI and/or your local NRCS field office.

Supply of Land Managers in Crisis?

This article was excerpted from Fair Chase-The Official Publication of the Boone and Crockett Club, Spring 2010, written by Robert D. Brown, Dean, College of Natural Resources at North Carolina State University.

The 1960s were the boom years in the education and production of natural resource professionals. The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), and the Endangered Species Act were passed and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was formed. College bound youth enrolled in natural resource curricula in droves. Funding for the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the US Forest Service (USFS), the Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural Resources Conservation Service-NRCS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) were good. Universities opened new academic programs and hired more faculty to deal with the influx of students. The profession of natural resource science and management prospered.

In recent years the 1960s generation (Baby Boomers) are reaching retirement age. By 2007, 61 percent of the program managers in the Department of Interior were eligible for retirement. That same year, half of the senior executive service members of the Interior, the USFS and the EPA could retire. The USFS anticipates losing 81 percent of its entomologists and nearly half of its foresters. The EPA is losing 45 percent of its toxicologists and 30 percent of its environmental specialists. An identical trend is happening in the state fish and game agencies, in private timber companies, and on ranches with wildlife managers.

This would not be a problem if the nation’s universities were churning out foresters, soil scientists, rangeland managers, and wildlife biologists with bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees that are needed. But they are not. Enrollment in natural resource fields at our nation’s colleges have been in steep decline since the late 1990s. Enrollments have dropped a full 33 percent since then. Professor Terry Sharik at Utah State University has tracked both national and regional data on these enrollments for the National Association of University Forest Resource Programs (NAUFRP). There have been declines in students studying forestry, range management, soil science, watershed management, wildlife and fisheries, and general natural resources. In natural resource programs, enrollments have increased in recreation, tourism, and park management.

Natural resource programs have responded by “sexing up” traditional degrees into ones called environmental soil science, restoration ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation biology. One of the problems with the shifting disciplines is that the new areas tend to be more general, more theoretical and less applied, and have fewer field experiences. The result of this says Maxine Levin of the NRCS, is that “environmental programs with no soil science, chemistry, math, or engineering have produced excellent future lawyers and activists, but not individuals who have the skill sets to do objective, science-based conservation planning with farmers, landowners, developers, engineers and regional and planners.”

Factors affecting student enrollment include low salary & lack of hiring over the past 10-20 years, impression that these fields are not “female friendly”, urbanized society – little connection with outdoors, and the fact that US middle and high schools are continuing to fall behind other countries in science and math; over a third of natural resource doctorates are awarded to foreign students.

Urban students are passionate about wildlife and the woods. They got their interest and attitudes about wildlife and the outdoors from the Discovery Channel. They are not from rural areas as in the past that spent time out of doors, hunting, driving tractors, cut timber or driving cattle.

Employers are saying today’s students need to know what the 60s students knew of the outdoors and also know statistics, GPS/GIS, computer modeling species regulations, conflict resolution, budgeting, personnel management.

In response to the natural resource manager crisis the Association of Fish & Wildlife has produced a “Conservation Education Agenda” for state agencies. Family-level nature clubs (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc), hunting & conservation organizations (Boone & Crockett Club, Ducks Unlimited, Quail Unlimited, etc.) all have outdoor youth programs. State and Federal programs have poured funding into science and math programs into our schools with varying success. Universities have responded by increasing marketing and recruiting efforts. Oregon State University conducted surveys and focus groups with high school students. They produced a DVD on the outdoors and use of electronics gadgets and other colleges are putting up billboards with photos of students in the woods spending “another day at the office”. North Carolina State University has begun recruiting at Camp LeJeune and Fort Bragg.

Despite these efforts, we can expect a shortage of trained land managers for the next several years. Perhaps the market will drive up salaries to make natural resources a more attractive career. There will continue to be a particular shortage of people with specialty degrees-forest entomology, range hydrology, or water law. The shortage emphasize the importance of programs for youth and college age students as the Boone and Crockett Club professorship, fellowship and research programs that are at the University of Montana, Oregon State University, Texas A&M University, the University of Michigan and developing programs at Colorado State University and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The training of our future wildlife and natural resource professionals-in terms of numbers, quality, diversity, and applied skills-is paramount to the future of our nation’s landscape.

Log Values–Coming Out of the Recession

By: Vincent Corrao, Northwest Management, Inc.

Growing trees and selling logs has not been high on anyone’s list since late 2008. Interest in logs by the mills did perk up a little at the end of the first quarter 2010 and beginning of second quarter 2010, but quickly dissipated as lumber prices softened. Lumber and ultimately log prices are tied to the housing market which has been as much as 50 to 70% below the peak period and remains slow and non-responsive.

Key indicators to the housing recovery are unemployment rates, the number of foreclosures and financing opportunities. The unemployment rate remains high with some economist’s claiming it is at the peak, while others claim it is still rising. As more home owners lose their jobs, it appears more homes enter the market and there is less of a demand for new home construction. Financing a home today with the new bank regulations is a difficult and long process with many hoops and guarantees being required that just 3 years ago were not being considered. The current situation points to a slow recovery and one that previously was hoped to be stronger and recovered by 2011 is now looking like a 8 to 10 year period before housing starts and the timber industry could see activity near past levels.

In the U.S. many homes were built during the past boom period and some feel that the “good old days” may be behind us with housing starts in the U.S. hanging around one million homes or less. Lifestyle changes, savings, personal wealth or lack of it and a projected decline in the U.S. population growth will affect the size and number of new homes.

With a slow recovery and soft lumber markets, what can a family forest landowner do to make some periodic income and continue to invest in tree growing? Growing trees is a long-term investment, one which provides other amenities while the trees are growing. As many studies have shown family forest landowners own forest land for a variety of reasons including wildlife, aesthetics, recreation in addition to growing timber. Trees can be stored “on the stump” until such time the landowner chooses to harvest, and the reasons to harvest may be price, insect damage, forest health or income generation.

As the market strengthens or as we saw during the 1st and 2nd quarter 2010, where a good increase was seen in lumber and logs, the landowners who were willing to move quickly and deliver the log products the mills needed were able to take advantage of the higher pricing and improve the management on their properties. Following NMI’s Log Market Report, evaluating species and products, and watching lumber futures can aid in when and what type of harvest fits best for your situation. If thinning is needed on your property, then a pulpwood/chip harvest may be the best alternative. If you have larger timber particularly cedar or Douglas-fir, there are specialty markets that can provide higher returns than the dimension lumber market.

The lumber and log market fluctuates and during the past 40 years has peaked approximately every 12 to 15 years, then takes a deep dive and slowly recovers. Wood use in the U.S. continues to increase at about 3% annually and is expected to continue. The Inland Northwest will continue to produce high quality dimension and building products and as the market improves, the demand for our species and products will follow.

FEATURED PROFESSIONAL: Gregory Bassler,Northwest Management, Inc.

So What is Chain-of-Custody Certification?

Many of you now have probably seen a Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain-of-custody label or logo on wood construction products, paper products (printed advertisements, envelopes, restaurant menus, business mailings, etc.) and packaging.

You’ve also probably wondered what it means. Chain-of -custody certification means that the product is made from wood fiber obtained from certified, responsibly managed forests. To ensure that the product came from certified fiber, chain-of-custody certification tracks the raw material from the forest to the consumer, including all successive stages of processing, transformation, manufacturing and distribution.

In order for manufacturers of forest products, paper merchants, converters, wood dealers, wood yards, wholesalers, brokers and printers to become certified, they must prepare procedures for purchasing, receiving, storage, processing, shipping and invoicing of certified material. This includes inventory control, employee training and reporting. Paperwork from the certified supplier and the companies own shipping paperwork must be kept on file and have the proper documentation. A paper trail of documents is kept to verify and track raw material from certified forests to the end product.

So why is this important? Consumers are assured that they are buying products sourced directly from responsibly managed forests. Consumers can make responsible environmental decisions and avoid buying products from illegal sources or from areas without effective social laws. Consumers can reward companies that are demonstrating their commitment to environmentally and socially responsible forest management.

For certified companies, they can make claims about how much of their product comes from certified lands, how much contains post-consumer recycled content and how much comes from non-certified/non-controversial forest content. Some companies are able to receive a premium for their certified product while others are able to maintain or expand their market share. Chain-of-custody certification has also offered access to international markets.

SFI Chain-of-custody certification recognizes the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and the Canadian Standard Association (CSA) as certified sources. FSC chain-of-custody recognizes only FSC certified sources. Several local sawmills and papermill (Idaho Forest Group, Stimson Lumber Company, Clearwater Paper Corporation, Clearwater Lumber to name a few) are chain-of-custody certified or are going through the certification process.

Logging Roads, Stormwater and the Clean water Act

By:  Gregory Bassler, Northwest Management, Inc.

On August 17, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated an attempt to exempt certain stormwater discharges from the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permitting requirements by regulation. While the challenge in Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC) v. Brown No. 07-35266 related specifically to storm water runoff from logging roads, the court’s opinion makes clear that runoff from industrial activities must be covered under a NPDES permit if, at any time prior to entering waters in the United States, it has been collected in man-made structures such as roadside ditches, culverts and channels. The decision could set important precedent for management of logging roads.

In NEDC v. Brown, the plaintiff alleged that the Oregon State Forester, members of the Oregon Board of Forestry and various timber companies had violated the CWA by failing to obtain an NPDES permit covering stormwater discharges from two long-existing public roads that enter Oregon’s Tillamook State Forest and are used for logging, among other things. The District Court dismissed the suit after concluding that these discharges were exempt from NPDES permitting under the EPA’s Silvicultural Rule. The Ninth Circuit found that stormwater flowing from these roads into forest streams and rivers through a system of ditches, culverts and channels was “point source” pollution and neither the Silvicultural Rule nor the 1987 amendments to the CWA exempted such discharges from the NPDES permit program.

The CWA requires NPDES permits for the discharge of any pollutant to any navigable water from any point source. The CWA distinguishes between point source discharges of pollutants and non-point source pollution. The difference between the two depends on whether the stormwater runoff was allowed to run off naturally, and thus a non-point source, or was collected, channeled and discharged through a system of ditches, culverts, channels and similar conveyances and thus a point source. Since 1973, rules promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) have distinguished between point source and non-point source pollution. Included in these rules is the so-called Silvicultural Rule, which specifically defines timber “harvesting operations, surface drainage, or road construction and maintenance from which there is natural runoff” to be “non-point source silvicultural activities” and exempt from NPDES permitting requirements.

In 1987, Congress amended the CWA and under Section 402 (p), it promulgated the EPA to establish a tiered approach to permitting stormwater discharges from point sources. Phase 1 required permits from industrial activity. The Phase 1 sources included discharges “associated with industrial activity”. Stormwater discharge from associated with industrial activity means the discharge from any conveyance that is used for collecting and conveying storm water and that is directly related to manufacturing, processing or raw materials storage areas at an industrial plant. The term does not include discharges from facilities or activities excluded from the NPDES program under part 122, which included the Silvicultural Rule. This exempted logging roads from Phase 1 permitting requirements as an industrial activity.

The Ninth Circuit ruled that the Silvicultural Rule cannot exclude logging road discharges from NPDES permitting. Logging road discharges are industrial stormwater discharges to EPA Phase 1 NPDES permitting. Logging road discharges fall squarely within the statutory definition of a point source.

NPDES permits must ensure that the discharge complies with water quality standards, and the permit holder must monitor and report the level of pollution as compared to permit limits. The permittee submits regular monitoring reports to EPA or state agencies and any violations are documented. Citizens can bring enforcement actions in Federal Court to enforce the terms of a permit if EPA or the state agencies allow a polluter to continue their polluting activities.

Obviously, this ruling has far reaching implications to forest landowners. Federal, State and private timber sales may be delayed or enjoined by lawsuits. Private logging roads and apparently some other roads such as county roads that are considered logging roads may be affected as well. Questions arise as to what constitutes a logging road and what distinguishes it from a road not associated with industrial activities. Who is responsible for obtaining the necessary permits? Is it the owner of the road, the entities that haul logs on the road and/or other users of the road? The EPA and the states agencies will have to address these questions and adopt rules to provide for permitting discharges from logging roads.

 A petition for en banc review has been filed. Numerous entities are coordinating their efforts to show the scope and importance of the court’s ruling. The court will either deny or grant petition for rehearing. We’ll keep you posted on any developments.