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Pine Flats Campground and hot spring access closed for reforestation

A dead Western Pine Beetle
U.S. Forest Service
The U.S. Forest Service says Western Pine Beetles, like the one pictured here, are partially to blame for damage to Ponderosa pine trees around the Pine Flats campground near Lowman. Crews will be working through October to plant hundreds of new trees in the area.

Access to a popular hot spring and campground in the Lowman area will be closed through October for a reforestation project.

Crews will be planting hundreds of five-year-old Ponderosa pine trees within the Pine Flats Campground over the next month. The Boise National Forest says the area has suffered from wildfire, disease and damaging insects in recent years.

Carl Jorgensen, an entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service, said they started noticing infestations of bark beetles around Pine Flats Campground in 2008, which got worse into the early 2010s.

“Then after the Pioneer Fire we had some additional damage in the area, not only in the campground, but in the general vicinity,” Jorgensen said.

Two types of these beetles love to chow down on the interior of Ponderosa pines: the Western Pine Beetle and pine engraver beetles.

They specifically look for trees that aren’t in the best of shape – especially those suffering through drought. The small beetles will work their way underneath the protective bark and begin eating the more tender interior.

“When they do that, that’s when they girdle the tree and the tree’s vascular system, or where the water moves up and down, gets killed or interrupted and then the tree dies,” Jorgensen said.

The best way to fight the beetles, according to the forest service, is to maintain healthy trees by diversifying the types of trees in an area and not overplanting, which can lead to competition for nutrients.

In all, the project is expected to cost between $40,000 and $50,000, a forest service spokesperson said.

The closure to the access road runs through Oct. 31. Forest Service officials said nearby hot springs in the Lowman area will still be open to the public during the closure.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!

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