Management of the forest ecosystem is one of the most critical aspects of land management on the installation due to the high percentage of forested land and its importance to military training. The management of forest resources on JBER must take into consideration ecosystem management principles of preservation and manipulation of habitat, conservation of wildlife, outdoor recreation, and public safety. The JBER forest management program is required to support and enhance the immediate and long-term military mission and meet natural resource stewardship requirements set forth in federal laws. Objectives and benefits of forest ecosystem management include biodiversity of species and habitat for threatened and endangered species; soil conservation and watershed protection, including erosion control; management of wildland fire, improvement of air and water quality; sustained production of commercially valuable forest products; noise abatement; and the sustainment of viable and diversified training lands to meet the military mission.
Forest Pest Management Spotlight: Spruce Bark Beetles
The last major outbreak of spruce bark beetles on JBER occurred in 1991-1992, which killed the majority of the large, mature white spruce throughout the installation. In 2016, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources Divison of Forestry observed a marked increase in the abundance of these beetles in southcentral Alaska, particularly in the Mat-Su Borough. JBER began noticing an uptick in activity in 2017. By 2018, large tracts of spruce forest throughout the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, from Wasilla to Denali State Park, had been decimated. The 2017 Forest Health Conditions report (U.S. Forest Service, 2018) noted at the end of 2017 that more than 400,000 acres of spruce forest had been destroyed in Alaska since 2016, more than twice than what was destroyed between 2015 and 2016. Continued mortality of white spruce is expected on JBER as well.
Spruce bark beetles occur naturally in Alaska, but are kept in check by the cold climate and short growing seasons in Alaska. Short and long term climate variability can lead to a reduction in timeline for their life cycle and the result is a population boom threatening mature white spruce trees. JBER is actively monitoring pest activity on JBER forests and works cooperatively with the AKDoF to monitor and manage outbreaks. Beetle killed trees can be valuable firewood and even saw or building logs. See out Firewood Cutting page for more information on using beetle killed spruce.
For more information, check out the State of Alaska Divsion of Forestry Website and the Univeristy of Alaska Cooperative Extension video series:
Spruce Bark Beetles: What They Are and What To Do About Them
Evaluating a Dead Spruce Tree
Processing a Beetle-Killed Spruce Tree
JBER Biological Scientist