A collaborative effort has helped combat the spread of the environmentally dangerous southern pine beetle on eastern Long island.
And at its peak, the beetle had infested over 1,500 trees, including on Fire Island and the William Floyd Estate.
The locally invasive beetle, which burrows into pine for survival purposes, eventually kills off the tree, which disrupts the local ecosystem, according to the National Park Service.
After being alerted of the invasion, multiple agencies began suppression efforts.
Those organizations included the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Central Pine Barrens Commission, Brookhaven National Lab, New York State Parks, Suffolk County Parks and the National Park Service.
“We decided to take down infested trees as soon as we could to keep the seashore’s forests healthy into the future,” said park biologist Jordan Raphael, who headed the culling effort at Fire Island National Seashore
Over the last four years, the National Park Service continuously cut down infected trees, which exposed the beetle’s larvae to the elements. The culling tactic was a success, and as of 2018, there were only eight reported infested pine trees on Long Island.
“Our rapid response and the continued collaboration have been key to slowing the spread of the beetle,” said Raphael.
For the effectiveness, the Long Island groups earned an Honorable Mention for the U.S. Forest Service Chief’s Honor Award in Sustaining Forests and Grasslands.
“The award was for our initial response,” said Kevin Dodds, a U.S. Forest Service entomologist, “for mobilizing the Forest Health Working Team and advancing science-based management strategies to combat the spread of this forest pest.”
Top: A southern pine beetle burrowing into a pine tree. (courtesy photo)
Editor’s note: Changes have been made to better reflect the story.