While wandering around campus, you may have noticed a few trees missing or clear signs of their extraction. Many pine trees on campus have become infested with both southern pine beetles and ips, which must be removed.
Just what are these beetles, and how do they affect the trees?
Mead Goings, the grounds director at Northwestern State University said, “these beetles target stressed trees such as ones that may have been struck by lightning in the past.” The U.S. Forest Service says that these insects will feast on healthy trees when food becomes plentiful, causing for a problematic situation.
Due to the severity of these infestations, the trees must be removed to prevent further spread of the beetles to healthy trees. These beetles are immune to insecticides, so there is little that can be done to remove the beetles once large infestations have occurred. Signs of infested trees include yellowing pine needles and ‘pitch tubes’ formed by the beetles burrowing in the bark.
Although removal is necessary, Goings said that up to at least 25 percent of additional trees than were removed get planted each year.
“Say we’ll remove about ten trees,” Goings said. “25 to 50 trees will be replanted within the next year.”
New growth and new trees around campus will help to keep NSU beautiful, Goings said, and promote the natural ecosystem. He wants students to understand the importance of removing the infested trees.
“By doing nothing [this will] create more of a problem. Hard decisions are often necessary,” Goings said.
“Although the historical spirit of the older trees are gone, the newer classes will be able to watch the newer [trees] as they grow,” said NSU student Lance Duhe.
Former Student Government Association President Tre Nelson said that “NSU’s beautiful campus would be elevated to new heights of aesthetic excellence with the addition of a few more trees around campus.” Current SGA President Jacob Ellis said the tree removal project was one of Nelson’s presidential initiatives.