Spruce Bark Beetle Continues to Eat Through Southcentral Alaska Forests, With Time to Salvage Running Short

The spruce bark beetle is continuing to eat its way through the forests in Southcentral Alaska. According to estimates, over 1.6 million acres are now impacted. Time is quickly running out to salvage any marketable value out of the effected wood.

On the Kenai Peninsula, at least 195,000 acres have been infected and that number is still growing. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Land Management Division is crafting a plan to address that destruction on 21,000 acres between Kenai and Cooper Landing in a way that is—best case—economically beneficial. The plan must at least protect against wildfires and help transition to a healthier, beetle-resistant biome.

Dakota Truitt is a land management agent. On Tuesday (3-22-22), Truitt gave a presentation in Soldotna about planned management ideas. He said, “Our primary objectives are to utilize the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s forest resources that are rapidly deteriorating. We want to reduce the economic and ecological costs to borough residents, improve the quality of the land, be a part of the sustainable industry development and reforest borough lands.”

“We’re trying to establish a management framework so that when this infrastructure funding or funding from the state comes through, that is so focused on fuel management, we have a net to catch some of it and we’re prepared to do that work,” Truitt added.

Truitt encourages public participation in the planning process. The lands division hopes to submit the ordinance to the Planning Commission in April and the assembly in June. If the ordinance is approved, they hope to create their first timber sale offering within six months and issue the first contract by next spring.

FEA compiles the Wood Markets News from various 3rd party sources to provide readers with the latest news impacting forest product markets. Opinions or views expressed in these articles do not necessarily represent those of FEA.