USFS to use magnesium-chloride on pine beetles

(Ouray) The United States Forest Service, warden of the woods, has released plans to exterminate pine beetles by applying magnesium chloride, a substance employed on state highways as snow melt and dust control.
The USFS has been accused of incompetence in the response to the pine beetle destruction and admits that this new plan has grown out of desperation. The agency’s accomplice, the Colorado Department of Transportation will handle the hands on spraying which is slated to begin any day now without notice.
“The existing policy of ignoring the problem will not make it go away,” said a critic of the proposal. “The authorities have had years to confront this infestation and have done little. Granted the warm winter weather and dry conditions have not helped in those marginalized efforts.”
The chemical weapon Mag-chloride, on the other hand, has been found to be an effective way to keep the highways free of ice and control dust. The only little problem that has arisen is that the chemical kills trees along the highway. It is not known if regular exposure of the chemical has negative impact on people and wildlife.
“Our sunshine melted the highways before,” said the critic. “Why do we need this stuff spread all over?” If people don’t like a little dust they should move to town where most of the streets are paved.”
Climate change, continuing drought and the prevention of natural fires by state and federal agencies is blamed for the destruction. The mountain pine beetles, indigenous to the high country now have a shorter hibernation period and have greatly reproduced while the trees are more susceptible to a non-native white pine blister rust, which prevents nutrient and water dispersion.
Although regular spraying of carbaryl slows down the devastation and eliminating hazard trees has thwarted easy migration of beetles it does not appear to be enough to control what experts are calling an epidemic. The scene in the forest is bordering on apocalyptic with dead red pines blowing in the dry wind and new green growth sprouting underneath.
“We noticed that the application of mag-chloride kills trees along the highways so we figured it might kill the beetles too,” said Anwar Meate, Supreme Commander of Executive Directors at the USFS. “What the heck…what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, no?”
Turning the agency’s vast supply of mag-chloride on the pine beetles has created major controversy with environmental groups saying the plan may kill the beetles but it will certainly kill the trees.
“Pine beetles have been here forever and so have the tree huggers,” said Meate.
The DOT reportedly purchased tons of the magnesium-chloride chemicals a few years back (from a fast-talking Front Range salesman?) at what they say were discount prices. The agency is keen to get rid of the stuff and distance itself from growing criticism of its use. Attempts to transfer the chemicals to Utah or Wyoming were met with anger and heel digging in those locales.
“It works great keeping dust levels down in the pine trees,” said Meate, “now we’ll have to wait and see if it discourages the beetles.”
– Fred Zeppelin


Filed Under: Lifestyles at Risk

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