Vail Resorts to try injecting healthy trees to stave off beetle infestation
VAIL (AP) ” Vail Resorts isn’t going to stand by and watch beetles devastate trees on their trails or just cut them down.
The company has hired Arborjet of Massachusetts to inject a repellent, emamectin benzoate, into the trunks of healthy lodgepoles to try to kill the rice-sized beetles, the Rocky Mountain News reports.
It will cost $20 to treat each tree, and they will require several treatments over the years. The Environmental Protection Agency has to approve the plan because of the known toxicity of the chemical.
The repellent, manufactured in Switzerland, already is being widely used in California. Vail will use it at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone. The company says it recognizes that trees not only have their aesthetic value ” highly valued by guests ” but also provide necessary windbreaks and visual definition during whiteouts.
Arborjet has an exclusive deal with the Swiss agricultural pharmaceutical firm Syngenta to distribute an internally administered repellent call emamectin benzoate.
“First of all, you cannot save the forest, but what you can do is you save individual trees and microcosm forests around homes, and you can save the basic blueprint of a ski area ” clusters of trees that continue to add character to the resort,” said Arborjet CEO Peter Wild.
Last year Rocky Mountain National Park lost 500,000 of the distinctive, skinny trees and the total since the mid-to-late 1990s is 1.5 million.
Other methods, including spraying and thinning, haven’t stopped the infestation, which has now spread across the Continental Divide to the east.
“It’s a very sensitive issue because (ski areas) lease land from the feds, and it’s a very unique relationship that they have,” Wild said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how many trees on federal or state land end up being treated as compared to private lands.”
Ken Kowynia, winter sports program manager for the Rocky Mountain Region of the U.S. Forest Service, said it’s too late for spraying or injecting trees to save the forests. He said planners need to focus on the next generation.
Syngenta, the manufacturer, says in a fact sheet that it is only mildly toxic if ingested by humans. But it can be “very toxic to aquatic organisms. Toxic to bees. May cause long-term effects in the environment.”
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