Not a pretty forest picture today 😔 Most of the landscape in and around the Oconee National Forest is now dotted with patches of dead pines of varying size due to the
Ips engraver beetles, a native insect, that only attacks pine trees. This year the damage has been extensive. Large patches of dead pines are common. This kind of damage is typically only seen during outbreaks of southern pine beetle, a different native insect. Private land owners have been clearing stands before they lose any more economic value. Most recent Forest Service activity in this area has been in preparing salvage timber sales. Most national forest stands will not be harvested though. Outbreaks like this are alarming, and may become all too common with climate change. To some extent though, this outbreak is a natural rebalancing since past land use left pines overly abundant in this area.