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Removal of diseased trees in Newberry Caldera underway


Recent outbreaks of mountain pine beetle and western gall rust are slowly causing long-term damage to lodgepole pine trees in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

According to monument manager Scott McBride, those infections kill trees, and they need to be removed.

“The overarching goal is to ensure the longevity of a stand, the forest health and resiliency,” McBride said Wednesday.

The infections cause a point of weakness on a tree, which can be a future hazard for visitors. The Forest Service has tagged diseased trees with a blue marking.

“That fungus can spread through a (tree) stand, but doesn’t necessarily spread to other species,” McBride said. “It really affects the pines.”

The overall project will cover just under 1,500 acres. About 250 acres will be removed in recreation sites. The remaining acreage is along the road.

In order for officials to safely remove the trees, certain campgrounds will begin temporarily closing in early September. The goal is to complete as many clearings as possible this year.

Campers cannot make reservations at East Lake, Little Crater, and Cinder Hall campgrounds; Newberry Group Camp; and Chief Paulina Horse Camp. A first-come, first-served basis is still allowed until operators begin clearing. Campers can still make reservations at the Paulina Campground through the end of the season.

“There’s still plenty of places to camp in the Newberry Caldera,” McBride said. “What we ask is some flexibility and understanding, and maybe consider an opportunity to try out a different campground or different campsite.”

Operators will work quickly to clear the trees, but depending on the weather this winter, temporary closures could continue into next spring and summer.

The impending closures are not stopping campers and day-use visitors from recreating at the monument.

“The mountains here are amazing,” said visitor Kim Wilford. “Some of them (the trees) will have to come down, but better that a few fall than all of them. I guess it’s the right thing to do, because you wouldn’t want to contaminate the rest of the forest.”

“It’s been a special place for humans over 10,000 years and continues to be that for visitors today,” McBride said.

A link to the project website is provided below.

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