2013-06-06 / Outdoors

Fish Report

Well, we are into a new month and the last one was rather interesting to say the least. The span from the night time temperatures to the day time high sure covered a lot of territory at times. Hopefully we are going through the last period where we have to worry about the frost for this summer. Then we can get into some serious gardening. I have always been told that you have to worry about frost until after the first week of June up here, if so, we should be all set now.

Even with all the crazy weather we had the last week or so there are those bass fishermen out there that have caught some good size fish. In fact, the main worry they have now is when your season starts out this good, will it continue to get better or go downhill from your great start? But it did make for some good times for those successful fishermen.

As of now all the fishing seasons are in full swing and the camping season is just getting started for the summer so can life in the U.P. get much better?

Speaking of the U.P., I guess we have another problem coming our way that can affect our forest. It seems that there is now a problem with the tamarack trees too.

The Department of Natural Resources announced today that mortality of eastern larch has been reported in many areas of the Upper Peninsula and in some areas of the northern Lower Peninsula. Eastern larch, also commonly known as tamarack, is succumbing to continued attacks by the eastern larch beetle (ELB).

“Once the ELB builds in an area of tamarack as evidenced by initial pockets of dead trees, continued mortality is likely,” said Robert Heyd, DNR forest health specialist. “Those who wish to utilize the tamarack in affected areas are encouraged to harvest their tamarack quickly if ELB is active in their stand.”

This bark beetle, which only attacks tamarack, first became an epidemic more than a decade ago. Tamarack was stressed by two consecutive years of defoliation by the larch casebearer in 2001 and 2002. The combined stress of this defoliation with the repeated droughts of the last decade contributed to the buildup of ELB populations.

Heyd said that from a distance, the most obvious evidence of a current infestation is yellowing foliage that develops by late July or early August. However, often heavily infested trees will not fade before the appearance of the normal fall color change. This makes detecting currently infested trees via aerial surveys or from a distance on the ground difficult if not impossible. Heavily infested trees generally fail to leaf out the following spring.

When infested tamarack are examined at close range, small entrance holes, (averaging just over 1/12 inch in diameter), are the only external signs of an infestation. Under the bark, beetle galleries are etched on the surface of the wood.

In fall and winter, woodpeckers often remove some or all of the bark from infested trees when searching to feed on bark beetles. By late winter and early spring, the removal reveals beetle galleries and exposes the reddish-purple inner bark or white sapwood of the tree. Debarked trees make it easy to identify an infestation.

Eastern larch beetles infestations are fueled by stressing events such as defoliation, flooding, drought, fire, old age, damage from windstorms or snow breakage.

“As tamarack stands age, they become more susceptible to bark beetles,” Heyd said. “Because tamarack trees are intolerant of shade, stress from competition may increase as crowns close in older stands. It is important to note that not all outbreaks have been associated with obvious stressors.

“Eastern larch beetles appear to be capable of attacking and killing trees when no predisposing condition or factor is apparent.”

The DNR recommends prompt removal of logs and utilization of material larger than 4 inches in diameter to remove breeding material and help reduce infestations. Infested trees, logs and slash should be removed once evidence of an infestation is detected. For more information, visit www.michigan. gov/foresthealth.

It is almost scary when you take a minute to stop and think of all the species of trees that make up our forest that are threatened in one way or another. Of course this does not seem to be a problem only in our area of the country but all over. I guess it points out once again the fact that we can do our part but in the long run we cannot control so many things in life

I guess I am just one of those that will never get tired of just walking through the woods and admiring the lay of the land and all the beauty of nature itself. Walking along the bank of a trout stream with nice mature trees, nothing can replace.

I guess I was blessed too with a wife that likes it as much as I do so we can enjoy it together.

It is interesting to stop and think of all the people in our group of friends who can just sit and watch all the different birds that frequent a bird feeder if there is even a small woodlot near their house. This can be a great hobby, but let me tell you it is not a cheap hobby, but nothing on TV can replace watching Orioles, Cardinals, and Scarlet Tanager along with all the other birds that grace you with their presence.

Hopefully the forest as we know it will always be there for us and those coming along behind us.

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