POSTED: Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 5:51pm
UPDATED: Sunday, October 20, 2013 - 3:12pm
For years, the Southern Pine Belt has provided work, and material for houses all over the country.
And the Southern Pine Beetle has tried to make that difficult.
I have seen personally what pine beetles can do to big, beautiful trees.
And there is no cure, no rescue once they are at work.
But it looks like for now, we’ve been lucky.
Out west, the Mountain Pine Beetle has mutated, and grown in strength.
And it is having its way with the timber industry there.
So I was alarmed when driving down Highway 69 north of Tyler and along with the last of the summer green, I saw this…a patch of dying pines.
So we stopped and looked around and found the culprit.
Now, when I moved from my hometown of Houston 12 years ago, we were in the middle of a devastating Pine Beetle infestation, damaging trees all over the area.
And out west, its cousin the Mountain Pine Beetle is doing similar damage there.
So when I saw this patch of brown pines, I feared the worst.
Turns out, we’re pretty lucky.
“Actually, a little more than a decade. We’ve had reports of the Southern Pine Beetle in the Mississippi area, but obviously that’s a long way from here,” says Texas A&M Forester Lin Risner. “So far we’ve stayed beetle-free.”
In this particular case, the cause was a small fire.
So here, the cause wasn’t nature, but man made.
“First off, the beetle is very cyclic,” Risner says. “So it may go in decades of cycles with no activity, and be very intense and go away again. Texas is on the western fringe of its range, and I think our drier, hotter weather may have a little to do with it.”
So, while Mississippi and other southern states deal with the beetles, we in drought stricken Texas have other worries. Our own carelessness.