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The Dying Trees – II (And it won’t be the last)

I’ve talked on several occasions about the impact of Red Pine Needle Scale at the Quabbin Reservoir, including here if you’d like some more background. In essence, Red Pine Needle Scale infects and quickly kills Red Pines.  In the Quabbin forests, inside the Reservation there are numerous stands of Red Pines.  They are all vulnerable and many are dying.  This is taking place in part because of the migration of the Scale into New England, from south of here (perhaps due to climate change, as some believe), and in part because mono species cultures are vulnerable to attack.  (We should think about this, whether or not there are too many people in one place or too many cows/chickens in a barn. The Asian Long Horn Beetle which is currently attacking Worcester, Massachusetts is successful, in part, because too many maples were planted in the city after Worcester was victimized by a massive tornado.  It did seem like a good idea at the time.  It’s just too easy for any sort of disease to spread from one member of a species to the next.)  The impact here is quick and intense.  This was, only about four years ago I’d say, a very normal and healthy looking stand of Red Pine.

Now, the stand is dead.

This was taken, last week, in August.  Of course, pine trees aren’t supposed to be barren at any time of the year.  The stand is about 100 yards deep it would appear.  Though there is pain in the tops, where the needles belong, there’s still a hint of beauty down below.  If you just looked down, you might not notice anything.

DCR, the Division of Conservation and Recreation, is now removing the stand.  They have to it seems to me.  One strong down draft and the highway that runs through Quabbin Park would be littered by these dead trees, and someone could get hurt.  The process has just begun it appears.

Even in the midst of this we can already see what nature has in store.

We cut the trees, then we replanted, now nature is taking them down.  Our environment is very dynamic and subject to change.  We play a role in that change, like it or not.  Red Pine Needle Scale will change the face of the Quabbin Forest.  I’ll follow up in a few weeks to see what this area looks like after the trees have been removed.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. scott #

    This is not red pine needle scale, it is however red pine scale. The difference is that it attacks the thin inner bark of smaller diameter branches in the crowns of the live trees. They hide under the flakes of bark and are microscopic in size. If an infestation is severe a white flocculence can sometimes be seen (white cottony spots not much unlide Hemlock wooly adelgid). They are slow moving but multiply by the thousands. Cold winters usually knock back the populations but with warmer winters fewer are dying during this time period.

    November 5, 2012

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