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New Study: Logging Beetle-Killed Trees May Be Pointless

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A new study shows logging beetle-killed trees in remote backcountry forest areas may not reduce fire risk or beetle outbreaks. Researches say the logging is a waste of money.

A new study shows logging beetle-killed trees in remote backcountry forest areas may not reduce fire risk or beetle outbreaks. Researches say the logging is a waste of money.

The scientific report suggests that bark beetle outbreaks may not lead to greater fire risk, and that tree thinning and logging is not likely to alleviate future large-scale epidemics of bark beetle.

The findings apply to millions of acres of lodgepole pine and spruce-fir forests across North America and trees in San Diego County's backcountry.

Scott Black is a Portland, Oregon-based scientist who worked on the study.

Black said there is little or no evidence to show that logging in any form will eliminate large-scale bark beetle infestations which are driven by drought.

"The research clearly shows that bark beetles and the related death of trees does not lead to more fires," said Black.

Black says fires burn more in live forests than dead forests.

"It really doesn't make economic sense to go out and try to manage these giant landscapes to stop native insects from doing what native insects do which is to kill trees," said Black.

Black said spending more money to fire-proof homes that border forest areas would be most effective if used to create defensible space around homes.

Additionally, any building of temporary or permanent roads in roadless areas to combat beetle outbreaks could have substantial "short-and long-term ecological costs," Black said.

Black said those costs could include damage to wildlife and water, increased wildfire risk and the introduction of invasive species.

The report is based on years of field research and a comprehensive scientific literature review.

The report was released by the National Center for Conservation Science and Policy, an Ashland, Oregon-based nonprofit organization.

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