N.Y. Wants Help Fighting Southern Pine Beetle

     (CN) – New York’s natural resources division said Thursday that it is taking bids for timber harvesters to help combat an invasive species of beetles.
     The southern pine beetle was discovered in October 2014, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC. The department went to work planning a response with a number of state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
     The best way to get rid of the “forest pest” is to cut down infested trees and thin out surrounding wooded areas, DEC says. Tree-cutting operations began as part of the response plan, resulting in nearly 2,500 infested trees being chopped down, according to the agency.
     However, its efforts have not been enough. DEC says there are still forested areas threatened by the southern pine beetle.
     The department is calling for timber harvesters to cut down trees on nearly 56 acres of forest on Long Island’s Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest.
     Bids from interested timber management companies must be received by DEC by Feb. 11. A bidding notice is posted on the department’s website.
     DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos said the southern pine beetle “poses a threat to Long Island’s Pine Barrens and DEC is actively fighting to protect the area from these destructive pests.”
     “By thinning a portion of this forest, which represents one of DEC’s largest land holdings in the Pine Barrens region, we are potentially saving thousands of trees from this invasive insect,” Seggos said in a statement.
     The southern pine beetle is native to southern areas of the United States, but the species has spread north and west. It attacks all types of pine trees, and about 1,000 acres of pine forests in New Jersey have been destroyed by the beetle each year since 2001, according to DEC.

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