OK Forestry Officials Target Devastating Beetles

Oklahoma Forestry officials announce that funding is available for forest landowners to prevent the ravages of a pine beetle infestation that has devastated vast areas in many southern states.

“More than 600,000 acres of Oklahoma’s pine forests are at high risk of attack by the South’s most destructive forest insect, the Southern Pine Beetle,” said John Burwell, State Forester. “Congress and the U.S. Forest Service are supporting State efforts to help landowners thin these overcrowded pine stands and improve forest health,” Burwell said.

The program targets forestlands at risk in LeFlore, McCurtain and Pushmataha counties. Dense pine stands in adjoining counties may be considered if the risk of attack is high or very high. According to Burwell, thinning dense pine stands on the most susceptible sites greatly reduces the likelihood of beetle attack.

To accomplish this, Oklahoma Forestry Services is offering cost-share assistance to landowners whose forests are at greatest risk. Approved forestry practices include thinning of dense pine stands and development of forest management plans by private consultants for Southern Pine Beetle Prevention. Oklahoma Forestry Services will assess applicant properties to make sure the requested practices fit within the program’s guidelines.

For information and an application, landowners should contact their local state forestry office or the State Forester’s Office in Oklahoma City at 405-522-6158, or visit the agency’s website at www.forestry.ok.gov.