Back on the trails, the aftermath of the Southern Pine Beetle.


The infestation of the Southern Pine Beetle within the Pine Barrens Region of Eastern Long Island, NY has been wreaking havoc on the local ecosystem. As I talked about in my previous post, the local wildlife preserve and other environmental groups decided the course of action to halt the spread any further, was to clear-cut trees that had been affected. And clear-cut they did, as you can see in the above video.

Southern Pine Beetle. Image courtesy of the USDA Forest Service.

Southern Pine Beetle. Image courtesy of the USDA Forest Service.

I’m torn because I understand the threat that the beetle presents to the Pine Barrens Region. The Pine Barrens overlies Long Island’s fresh water aquifer and helps to purify Long Island’s drinking water. Not only does it purify our drinking water, it is host to a variety of rare animal, reptiles, birds, and amphibians, as well as 50 species of state rare plants. The beetle could cause devastation to an already sensitive area.

What I find extra troubling is the fact that through their efforts to thwart off this pest, they have gone and clear-cut massive amounts of pine trees within the 100,000 + acre area. And they have left them there to decompose.

Why is that? Is it not to disrupt the natural habitat and land? Can’t be that reason, they already went in and cut the trees down. That’s a major disruption. Normally when a tree falls in the woods, they leave it, unless it is inhibiting a driving or walking trail that is needed for access.

Leaving hundred year old pine trees who are still seeping sap to just wither in the elements. That bothers me. Why not let someone come in, take the trees that are salvageable after being cut, and repurpose them. Turn them into park benches, tables, chairs, ornamental objects? Wouldn’t that be something good coming out of something bad? I believe so. But you can’t take the wood out of the preserve, and they wont let anyone go in to get it out.

Walking through the trails yesterday on one of the hottest days of the summer, I could smell the pine tree aroma wafting through the slight breeze. I hate the smell of pine. I never had a real Christmas tree, and even those scented air fresheners that smell like pine won’t step foot in my house.

But that smell, out in the forest, well that I don’t mind. Sadly I know the increase in its scent is due to the poor trees that were cut back, in essence to save the rest of the forest. I realize it was needed, as are controlled fires within the region, because there are animal and plant species that rely on fires to survive.

Seeing this along my peaceful walk, is disturbing and sad on so many levels. I’ve said a tree taught me how to live before, and I still feel that sentiment to be true. Being greeted by the fallen debris was sad and cathartic in a way, I hope their efforts put a stop to the infestation and in the end someone is allowed to repurpose the cut down trees.

It would be such a shame if it was left to waste away unnecessarily…

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