Park officials to hold town hall regarding southern pine beetle outbreaks

Published: Jul. 5, 2018 at 11:01 AM EDT
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Monday, Aug. 27, 2018

EDGEFIELD, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- In an effort to increase forest health and protect it against the outbreak of southern pine beetles, park officials say they have two proposed projects they would like to present to the public and conservation partners.

An open house will be held on September 19th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Edgefield Town Hall meeting room at 400 Main Street in Edgefield.

The district is proposing to thin more than 2,900 acres of overstocked immature loblolly pine stands. The loblolly pine is highly susceptible to beetle attacks. In addition, Rangers have identified over 60 bug spots using aerial detection, satellite imagery, and ground investigation.

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Thursday, July 5, 2018

News 12 @ 6 O'clock / NBC 26 at 7

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) -- In Southern Living's "Best Small Town in the South," trees are becoming known as Aiken's green gold. A recent inventory shows Aiken's trees are an asset worth protecting. Particularly when invasive species come to town.

Justin Lee with Bartlett Trees says Aiken's canopy is thriving.

"The initial number that was thrown around in assessments was 8000 trees."

Their study, wrapped up just in the last couple months revealed 23,000 trees in Aiken's Parkways and they're a gold mine.

"A hundred-plus million dollars of value in the city."

City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh says it could be as much as $150 million.

"A lot of neighborhoods in Aiken have trees on private property or commercial and residential property. So those trees were not examined."

When recent numbers of the Southern Pine Beetle began to spike, they took notice.

"They identified some trees we need to target so as to eventually have them removed," said Mr. Bedenbaugh.

"It's only going to get worse. These beetles go after trees that are stressed. They are going to attack the weakest link in the landscape every single time," Mr. Lee said.

State numbers show pine beetle numbers getting pretty high as close as Edgefield. But Lee says they're here in Aiken too and they peak in the fall.

"I get probably seventy-five to eighty cases a year."

He says particularly with the rain the region's been having--preventative measures are key.

"We get these late afternoon thunderstorms, you get a broken branch and just leave it--it's not hurting anything, but that open wound is an invitation for these beetles to come in."

But he's confident the city's got it handled.

"Sort of gave us a blueprint for how to move forward," said Mr. Bedenbaugh.

Lee says too many trees can also be a bad thing because competition for space can invite those buggers in.

Bedenbaugh says Aiken is already working on plans to move utilities underground in areas with lots of trees like on South Boundary.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The Southern pine beetle has returned to South Carolina.

David Jenkins with the South Carolina Forestry Commission told The Post and Courier of Charleston that entire forests have been taken down by pine beetles in the past.

Jenkins says infestations have begun showing up around the Southeast. He says the outbreak could last for a couple of years. Experts say trees that have been weakened by storms, fires, and a long drought are susceptible to damage by pine beetles.

Clemson University reported the last outbreak in 2000 caused about $1.5 billion in damage in the Southeast.

South Carolina has about 13 million trees with an estimated value of $21 billion.

Jenkins says pines on residential property are not likely to suffer unless they are near a large, infested forest.

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