As part of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) aggressive efforts to combat the spread of the invasive Southern Pine Beetle, DEC will soon begin conducting ecological forest operations on Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest.
"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," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "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."
The ecological research operation was made possible by a $34,900 grant from the USDA Forest Service (USFS).
DEC staff began investigating potential solutions to battle Southern Pine Beetle on its Rocky Point Preserve Property after a small infestation was found on the 6,000-acre Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest in 2015.
The project will be conducted over a 27-acre area. Nine acres will serve as a control, where no treatment is administered. The other 18 acres will be thinned according to silvicultural guidelines. The area will be broken up into three blocks of three-acre sections. Each block will receive different treatments in order to determine their effectiveness. The three treatment options are: control, thinning, and thinning and burning.
The plan, which was developed by DEC and USFS foresters, will selectively remove varying amounts of pitch pine, scarlet, and white oak trees throughout the three-acre blocks. This is intended to give the remaining trees more access to sunlight and nutrients, allowing them to gain strength and better fight off the invading beetle. Each block will be analyzed to determine which block was the most effective in resisting Southern Pine Beetle attacks.
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