Pine Beetle Plague

Since December we have been fighting a plague in our pine trees.  This has involved cutting down over 300 pine trees in the forest - for those who have been to the Bosque you will notice a big difference in the Dimple, the Mesa, and the entrance from the nearby village.

The culprit is the Mexican Pine beetle:

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The beetles make their way under the bark to the cambium layer and lay their eggs.  They eat the trees until they die, and then move to another tree.  Different species of beetles are doing the same in many areas of North America.  Ten years ago a nearby village lost an entire forest to this plague.  To read more about this beetle, click here.

We were so fortunate to begin our fight against the plague on the arrival of Angie, a certified Arborist and Forester.  She took to the task right away and led large volunteer teams in cutting down infected trees and burning branches.

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We were also fortunate that the height of the battle took place during a spike in volunteer help - we had teams of 6 - 20 people working daily to clear out infected trees, tarp over piles of large infected branches, and burn the remaining branches.  Below is the group during a short break from chopping up wood and cutting down trees.

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While watching parts of the forest getting chopped down was a bit unsettling since our primary objective is to protect and diversify the forest, there are many positive aspects to losing some trees.  We’ve used our new sawmill to make beams that will allow us to construct new huts and buildings.  We collected the sawdust to use in our cob mixture to make natural walls for the chicken coop and huts.  We saved some large trees to carve more totem poles.  And the new open spaces will allow us to plant a great diversity of trees and plants.

This forest was clear-cut 60 years ago to be used for crops.  According to a friend of the Bosque who knows some history of the land, the forest was naturally re-planted; it is mainly pines, oaks, and madrones.   In the areas where we lost the pines, the oaks and madrones will find more space to grow and re-populate.  We will supplement the diversity by planting fruit trees among the oaks and madrones.

The fight against the pine beetle appears to be nearing the end.  We will do weekly walks around the forest to look for infected areas.

We are so grateful for our friends from nearby villages and our volunteers who helped us in this battle!  Thanks for helping us save the forest.

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