On the road to healthier forests; DNR outlines forest health hazard warning at public meetings

Bark beetle
Bark beetle. Photo: Natural Resources Canada.

Last night, DNR met with the citizens of the City of Tonasket and surrounding areas to share information about the “forest health hazard warning” in eastern Okanogan County.

After receiving recommendations last month from the Forest Health Technical Advisory Committee, Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark intends to issue the hazard warning to focus attention and action to address ongoing forest insect infestations in areas that have been identified by the committee.

Those areas are:

  • Ferry County: Expanding the recommended spruce budworm warning area to include the entire county;
  • Okanogan & Ferry counties: Including pine bark beetles in the warnings (along with western spruce budworm); and
  • Klickitat and Yakima counties: Issuing an additional warning for pine bark beetles in portions of the two counties.

Tonight, DNR meets with citizens who live in and around the City of Republic to discuss the forest health hazard warning in western Ferry County. 

Next week, DNR will hold a public meeting in the City of Goldendale to discuss the forest health issues in portions of Klickitat and Yakima counties.

At the public meetings, DNR will present information on the nature of the forest conditions and recommended actions, and seeks input from the public.

The hazard warning would free up more than $4 million to help landowners combat the insect outbreaks. All actions are voluntary on the part of the affected landowners and land managers. Funding allocated to DNR, under a “Jobs Bill” passed by the state legislature in April, will be directed toward the effort.

Thanks to the aerial survey, DNR and the U.S. Forest Service are able to assess where unhealthy forests are and what is causing the problem. Although it was delayed because of the weather, this year’s aerial survey is now underway and should be completed in September.

Read the full report of the Forest Health Technical Advisory Committee.