Disease and beetles threaten thousands of acres at Bogus Basin

Disease and beetles kill trees at Bogus Basin.

BOISE - A one-two punch of dwarf mistletoe disease and bark beetles have threatened thousands of acres of trees in the Boise National Forest.

Every year, dwarf mistletoe and bark beetles attack trees at Bogus Basin from the ground up. 

"Typically they'll kill three to 10 trees at a time," said Stephaney Kerley with the Forest Service. "What we're seeing right now is bark beetles are killing pockets of 50 to 100 trees at a time."

It's an epidemic that will change the face of Bogus Basin forever.

"It won't be the same at all," said Kerley. "During the summer months people come up from the Valley to escape the heat - and if you're up here riding your mountain bike and there isn't a forest up here, it isn't going to be the same experience at all." 

Over time, the disease will weaken the tree, welcoming bark beetles.

"When they're weak they don't put up their natural defenses to keep the bark beetles out," said Kerley. "If the bark beetles do continue with what they're doing it's not going to be very long before every tree that we see is infected with bark beetles and killed very quickly."

A dying forest won't just be bad for animal habitats.

"If we sit back here and do nothing it will be devastating and it will aeffect everyone," said Kerley.

Forest officials - in addition to several other agencies such as the Idaho Conservation League and Idaho Fish & Game - have a plan which will be rolled out over the next several years.

"We're going to cut out the worst of the worst of the infected trees and the trees that pose an immediate hazard to recreationists," said Kerley.

Then, they will plant a species of tree in its place not susceptible to the disease or bark beetles.

"As that's growing up over time, trees that have kind of a moderate level of infection of dwarf mistletoe over time, they will be the worst of the worst," said Kerley. "Eventually what we hope to leave here is a legacy for our grandchildren, and their children, of this recreation experience that we enjoy right now."

Officials say they're seeing more beetles surviving the winter months. They're now hoping for colder temperatures this coming winter to keep the beetle population under control. 

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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