Battle – 03 Activities in 1925 – The First Year

The Battle Against Bark Beetles in Crater Lake National Park: 1925-34
 Activities in 1925 – The First Year


In the 1924 survey report, Patterson recommended that the large, intense outbreak north of the lake be ignored. He pointed out that almost 80 percent of the trees had already been killed so efforts to protect stands from future losses should be centered south of the lake in the following areas: south of Wheeler Creek near the east entrance, between Sand and Wheeler Creeks, in the Pinnacles, south of Wheeler between Lost Creek Ranger Station and Kerr Notch, in Munson Valley, and in Anna Springs. [7] These areas totaled about 1,920 acres (see footnote 3). Control crews moved into the park on May 25, 1925. The first camp was established at the Ranger Station at the east entrance (no longer in existence). It was difficult to move the crews and equipment into this area because of late persistence of snow 3 to 6 feet deep. Consequently the first few days were spent opening the roads so that trucks could bring in the crews and supplies. Camps were later established at the Lost Creek Ranger Station on May 27 and at Government Camp near Munson Valley on June 24. Control work was completed by July 11 with 4,291 trees treated. Average diameter at breast height of the treated trees was 14 inches (see footnote 5).

Treatment methods were similar to those used in the mountain pine beetle control project in northeastern Oregon in 1911. [8]. But some new wrinkles had resulted from some experimental work by Patterson. He described the methods in his report as follows:

All infested trees were felled before being treated. The smaller trees were felled with axes while those above 8 inches in diameter were felled with saws. In the control work on areas A, B, C, D, and E, the felled trees were limbed and the tops and branches piled back on the infested logs and the whole mass was burned. This method was the cheapest one that could be employed to kill the broods of beetles and was used until the lateness of the season made the danger from fire too great to be risked. Consequently on areas F and G, which were treated after June 25th, burning was discontinued. On these areas the felled trees were limbed and topped and the stripped logs rolled to openings in the forest where the sun during the midday period shown directly on them. Owing to the thin bark of lodgepole pine an exposure to the sun under these conditions for a period of at least two hours resulted in bark temperatures sufficiently high to kill the broods of beetles in whatever stage of development. It was necessary to turn the logs after the beetles under the upper bark had been killed in order to expose the rest of the brood to the sun’s rays. Although this necessitated covering the same ground twice the additional cost and time involved was much less than that which would have been necessary to guard against the fire hazard attendant upon the first method. The two methods were equally effective in treating the infested trees, but the cost per tree on this project was slightly greater for the sun treatment, except when the fire hazard increased the cost of burning. The sun treatment method is particularly desirable in stands where the burning method would cause damage by scorching adjacent standing timber (see footnote 5).

beetle4Figure 4—Area treated by sun-curing method, Crater Lake National Park, September 1934.

The sun-curing method of treating beetle-infested lodgepole pine was proposed after studies carried out by Patterson near Ashland in the early 1920s and was the first operational use of the method in a bark beetle control project. [9].

The Park Service spent $4,954.15 of their $5,000.00 allotment. Wages represented $3,131.75 of the total with the rest going for provisions, equipment, and various supplies. Not a bad cost accounting considering the remote area, poor transportation, deep snow, and lack of roads.

After surveys were made in September 1925, Patterson reported that the results of the work were good for most of the units; Kerr Notch was the worst area with 200 newly infested trees. He stated that (see footnote 5),

while the results of this first year’s control work were very successful in breaking the epidemic, this reinfestation will, unless removed, soon again become epidemic. To prevent this and secure permanent results from the work already done the following recommendations should be carried out in the spring of 1926.

Thus began a series of rosy proclamations about winning the war against the beetles. The recommendations suggested that about 500 to 700 infested trees would be found the next spring and $1,000 would be needed to treat them. Some infestation of western pine beetle (Dendroctonus brevicomis) in large ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosaDougl. ex Laws.) near the south entrance were also noted with a recommendation to treat about 200 trees at a cost of $1,000. Thus, for a measly $2,000 Patterson stated, “The proposed work should not only maintain the beneficial results of the initial control work, but also should accomplish the practical elimination of all infestations in the south half of the Park” (see footnote 5). Did it? Let us follow the course of the battle.


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