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Posted on: April 24, 2019

Mount Spokane State Park to take action against destructive bark beetles

Non-lethal treatment includes ground and helicopter application

OLYMPIA – April 23, 2019 – Beginning this week, contractors will treat more than 1,200 acres of forest at Mount Spokane State Park to prevent a potential infestation of Douglas-fir bark beetles.

While Douglas-fir bark beetles are native to Washington, they are opportunistic and attracted to downed trees, especially those weakened by fire, drought, defoliation and disease. State Parks foresters are concerned the bark beetles could move from downed trees in the park to healthy standing trees.

Douglas-fir bark beetles are the most destructive bark beetle attacking Douglas-fir trees in the Pacific Northwest. Populations expand rapidly in weakened and downed trees. Subsequent generations of beetles attack and kill healthy green trees in surrounding areas, making them more susceptible to wildfire.

Treatment will take place in intact sections of the park’s forested areas — both on the ground and by helicopter. Ground treatment will consist of using 1,500 “bubble caps” filled with MCH attached to trees in about 5.5 miles of stream corridors. Helicopters will apply an additional 1,500 pounds of MCH “flakes” over almost 1,150 acres.

MCH stands for methylcyclohexenone, a naturally occurring anti-aggregating pheromone used to prevent Douglas-fir bark beetles from entering trees. MCH sends a message that the tree is full and that beetles should look elsewhere for a suitable host. MCH is safe for the environment and not harmful to people, pets, birds and even the bark beetles.

On-the-ground work is expected to last four to six weeks and won’t require any park closures. The aerial application by helicopter will take place in early May. This application will take about two to three days, during which part of the park will need to be closed. The stands of trees being treated contain mature Douglas-fir, 80-plus years in age.

State Parks staff will post updates on the Mount Spokane State Park web page at about when the aerial application will take place. Staff also will install signage in the park notifying visitors about the aerial application.

Timing is everything
The timing to apply MCH is crucial to preventing infestations. Application must be completed before the bark beetle starts flying in the spring.

News media contacts:
Lara Gricar, Program Manager, Inland Northwest Area, (509) 465-5064
Virginia Painter, Communications Office, (360) 902-8562


About Washington State Parks

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.

 News release number: 19-018

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