80 beetle-stricken trees to be removed

Dying pine trees stricken by the western pine beetle near Crowson Reservoir, seen here through the trees, will be removed starting Monday, March 14. Ashland.news photo by Bert Etling
March 7, 2022

Infestation near Red Queen Trailhead is killing pines

By Bert Etling, Ashland.news

Approximately 80 dead and dying pine trees will be removed near the Red Queen Trailhead starting Monday, March 14, the City of Ashland has announced. A western pine beetle infestation in trees to the southeast of the intersection of Ashland Loop Road and Terrace Street has killed or is killing the trees, scattered across about six acres on five lots, two owned by the city. Most of the trees to be removed are on city-owned land.

Dying pine trees stricken by the western pine beetle near Crowson Reservoir, seen here in the foreground, will be removed starting Monday, March 14. Ashland.news photo by Bert Etling

Drought conditions have weakened trees to the point they are easy targets for this species of beetle, the city said in a news release announcing the tree removal. A major outbreak started last summer near the trailhead, which is adjacent to Crowson Reservoir. 

After consultation with a local forest entomologist and the city forestry consultant, the release says, “we regret that infected trees have to be cut and removed … and some are large trees. We have cut into the bark of some of the trees and there are both overwintering adult beetles and beetle larvae lying in wait just under the bark.

Notice that dying pine trees stricken by the western pine beetle near Crowson Reservoir will be removed starting Monday, March 14, is posted at the Red Queen Trailhead. Ashland.news photo by Bert Etling

“When the weather is consistently warm, the larvae will mature and leave the trees in droves looking for new, green trees to attack. Given the ongoing drought, it’s likely they’ll find weak trees on adjacent city and private properties to attack, perpetuating the die off. Western pine beetle can have as many as three generations per year, so we need to not only cut the trees, but remove all of the trunks away from the area to avoid a massive hatch of beetles this spring into summer.”
Some trees appear mostly green, but with dead tops. Many of these will have to be cut and hauled away.

Leaving the trees would mean fire danger would quickly increase, putting neighboring homes at higher fire risk, according to the city. The well-used Red Queen Trail winds through the trees and the city feels obligated to remove dead trees that pose a public hazard to trail users and to the adjacent water storage tank.

A contracted logging operator will cut and remove the trees and another forestry crew will clean up and burn branches and needles on approved burn days. There will be some soil disturbance during the operation that will be repaired at the end of work, and the trail will be restored.

The adjacent intersection at Terrace Street and Ashland Loop Road will be closed March 14-16.

The wood will be hauled away on trucks to be cut primarily for firewood and a small amount of salvageable lumber. The value of the wood is diminished by rot and a fungus that stains the wood blue. 

Questions about the project can be sent to Chris Chambers, the forestry division chief for Ashland Fire & Rescue, at chamberc@ashland.or.us.

Email Ashland.news Executive Editor Bert Etling at betling@ashland.news or call or text him at 541-631-1313.

Trees to be removed on city property shown in black account for more than half the total that will be removed. Additional trees on private land are not shown on this map. City of Ashland map
Dying trees will be removed in the area of Crowson Reservoir and the Red Queen Trailhead, just east of the intersection of Terrace Street and Ashland Loop Road, at lower-left center in the above map. Map courtesy of City of Ashland GIS Department

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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