BARK Beetle Control in Western Forests Aided by Work of C. C. C. Camps

The establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the spring of 1933 made available a new force for the protection of our national forests and parks. Up to that time bark beetle control projects had been manned by local labor skilled in the ways of the forest. Camps comprising about 25 men were established as working units in the infested areas, wages were in line with those paid for skilled woods labor, and a thoroughly efficient job with low costs for volume of timber treated was expected and ordinarily obtained. The C. C. C. camps, as they were set up to handle all types of forestry projects, presented an entirely different sort of human material with which to conduct these campaigns. These camps were made up of labor in company units of about 200 men. Only young men between the ages of 18 and 25 were enlisted, the great majority of whom came from the cities and included boys unskilled in the use of woods tools. The training of the C. C. C. men in the physical work of felling, limbing, and peeling trees at first required considerable attention. Gradually, however, the men became proficient in the use of tools.

   In California a fairly large-scale program was carried on during the summer of 1933 on national parks and in national-forest recreational areas. This was possible because climatic conditions permitted the use of solar heat, in lieu of fire, for destroying the bark beetle broods during the season of high fire hazard (fig. 4). In southern California the work was concentrated in areas of high recreational value, where 4,957 trees containing the equivalent of 2,760,000 board-feet of lumber were felled and the insects destroyed. In the Yosemite National Park work was continued throughout the summer in the sugar pine forests, where the trees were of great size and value. During the winter months the work was conducted to better advantage, as many of the boys who had acquired experience during the summer reenlisted, and the winter program was concentrated in commercially valuable timber on the Modoc, Lassen, and Stanislaus National Forests. In the entire State 9,200 trees with a volume of 8½ million board-feet were treated by C. C. C. labor between July 1, 1933, and April 1, 1934, Approximately 350,000 acres of forest land were included in the program.  Forty technical men were employed as insect-control foremen and spotters for the supervision of these projects. The number of enlisted men assigned to this activity ranged from 200 to 300, according to the seasonal conditions of the work.

In Washington and Oregon control work in the suppression of bark beetle outbreaks was conducted largely on national parks and Indian reservations. During the spring of 1933 the two C. C. C. camps in Crater Lake National Park contributed 4,581 man-days in the treatment of 6,349 infested lodgepole pine trees. This work represented the final clean-up of an infestation that had been running for several years, and was so effective that only 13 infested lodgepole pine trees could be located for treatment in 1934. In 1934 the program for this park consisted in mopping up some scattered infestations in ponderosa and sugar pine, and 142 trees were treated by the C. C. C. boys.  On the Yakima Indian Reservation a virulent outbreak of the western pine beetle was combated on 7,160 acres by crews of Indian boys in the C. C. C. camps. A total of 2,383 infested ponderosa pines were felled, peeled, and burned during the fall of 1933 and spring of 1934, resulting in a marked reduction of timber losses on this reservation.

FIGURE 4.—C. C. C. workers in Yosemite National Park preparing timber for destruction of broods of the western pine beetle by solar heat.

In the northern Rocky Mountain region several thousand trees in the Yellowstone National Park and on the Medicine Bow, Montezuma, Kootenai, and Shoshone National Forests were treated by C. C. C.labor during 1933 and still more in 1934.

In addition to control work, some special research and survey projects were carried on with the aid of C. C. C. labor. A few men, who had sufficient education and who showed adaptability for such work, were placed on special assignment under the direction of the Bureau of Entomology. These men worked, as assistants, immediately under a forest entomologist in obtaining basic data needed in determining the status of the bark beetle populations in areas wheye control work was contemplated. In California C. C. C. men aided in a study of the effects of a cold wave during the winter of 1932-33, which killed a large proportion of the beetle broods, by determining the area affected by the cold. In Oregon and Washington and in the Rocky Mountains selected men from the C. C. C. camps assisted in conducting surveys to determine the need for control. During 1933, 37 of these men covered 18,240 acres of sample plots with intensive check cruises.  They also assisted in analyzing the emergence from 2,879 square feet of bark affected by the winter freeze to determine the influence of this cold weather on bark beetle outbreaks.

J. M. MILLER, Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine.