Battle – 04 Events From 1926 Through 1928

The Battle Against Bark Beetles in Crater Lake National Park: 1925-34
 Events From 1926 Through 1928


beetle5tFigure 5—Evolution of mountain pine beetle infestations from 1924 to 1929 in Crater Lake National Park. Beetles migrating from the first established center in the northern part of the park invaded the southern areas, thereby causing great losses in these recreational stands. Control work during 1925 to 1932 was directed against infestations in all the southern forests. Areas where control was carried out in 1947 are shown encircled southeast of Crater Lake.

In February 1926, Park Superintendent Thomson wrote a disturbing letter to Patterson. The letter acknowledged the recommendation for $2,000 needed for spring 1926 control work but said that the funds could not be released until after July 1, 1926 (the new fiscal year). The letter ended, “…if it should be too late then to undertake effective control measures, the money will be available for use the following spring (1927) when insect infestations can be treated in time.” [10] Patterson replied immediately that he was perplexed over this delay in allotting funds that he thought were arranged. He saw much good work of 1925 going for naught if the remaining infestations could not be cleaned out in spring 1926 before beetles emerged from infested trees. In the meantime F.C. Craighead, Chief of Forest Insect Investigations, Bureau of Entomology, Washington, DC, started lobbying the top echelons of the Federal bureaucracy. He came up with $1,600 that was intended for Grand Canyon National Park (see footnote 10). This, combined with $400 left over from other work at Crater Lake, was enough to proceed as planned. New problems arose, however, once the control work started. Instead of several hundred infested trees as estimated in 1925, there were several thousand. This necessitated control work into August and September at Anna Creek and Munson Valley (see footnote 10). This was not good news because it meant treating well into the period when beetles were in flight and making new attacks. Spotters could miss many new attacks. The only good news was that the Park Service allotted $8,000 to Crater Lake for fiscal year 1927, minus the $1,600 hijacked from Grand Canyon. But, in the fall when Patterson and Thomson tried to find out exactly how much they had remaining to use in their spring 1927 work, they found the dollars had been slipping away to other parks — Yellowstone for one (see footnote 10). The year-end report by Patterson showed 6,805 trees treated (43 were ponderosa pine infested with western pine beetle) at a cost of $9,645.16. [11] He claimed a reduction of 86 percent in the number of infested trees on all the old units worked in 1925, but new infestations kept cropping up in fall 1926. An area around Crater Peak had 2,500 newly infested trees, and an area east of the entrance in the Crater National Forest continued to be a trouble spot. Patterson claimed that they continued as a source of new infestation for the lodgepole pine stands in the park. Patterson further surmised that the newly infested area at Crater Peak and the trees found in Munson Valley resulted from beetle infestations north of the lake. He felt that this source would no longer be troublesome because most of the trees in that area were dead by 1926 (see footnote 11). He optimistically requested only $2,500 to $3,000 for control work in 1927. Patterson was concerned about the reinvasion of areas in 1926, but after examining the old infestations north of the lake he was convinced (see footnote 11)

…that the progress or “drift” of the annual infestations had been consistently in a south-westerly direction. This fact was further supported by examination made in the new infested lodgepole stands in the west-central part of the Park. These stands have only recently been invaded and the drift of the beetles infesting them has also been toward the southwest. This is shown by the fact that the first trees attacked are on the northeast exposure of the infested areas.

The discovery of this drift in the Crater Lake Park was of significance, because the control areas and the lodgepole pine stands in the west-central part just described, are in its path. Further evidence supporting this suspected cause of the re-infestation was the fact that the last trees attacked in the old areas north-east of the lake are located on their southwestern border and that these places represent the last stand of the beetles in this locality. These old areas were abandoned in 1926, because all the lodgepole in them had been killed. The flight of 1926 represented the last remnant of their beetle population and this remnant was forced to migrate to living stands of lodgepole. One of the last epidemic centers in these old areas abandoned by the beetles in 1926 is located on the rim or the lake near Round Top, (see map). This point is directly north-east of the Munson Valley region where the greatest re-infestation of the control areas occurred in 1926. This re-infestation is believed to have been caused by an invasion of beetles migrating from these old epidemic centers.