With drought conditions alleviated throughout much of the state, it is a good time to
consider taking steps to help improve forest resiliency on your land before the next insect or pathogen outbreak, fire, or drought. Achieving healthy forest conditions is a long-term commitment that landowners can accomplish in a variety of ways depending on the landscape as well as landowner goals. When working to improve your forest, consider the following:
Goals. What type of forest stand is desired -- an old, large-statured stand with complex tree and canopy characteristics; thrifty, sound trees with little structural hazard and/or good timber quality; one with few ladder fuels and an increased height from the ground to tree crowns; a combination of the proposed stand types here; or another type altogether? Management interventions will differ based on landowner goals.
Current conditions. Although the drought is over in many places, bark beetles will continue to be active in affected stands for some time. Many trees are still green, but are infested by bark beetles and will die within the next year. To limit beetle spread to currently uninfested trees, identify green infested trees plus any trees that are obviously unhealthy and remove them from the stand.
Timing. Stand improvements, such as thinning to increase growing space for trees, are best done when trees have sufficient resources (e.g. water), rather than during a drought. Additionally, early interventions (i.e., in young stands) have the best chances of improving stand quality and reducing damage to trees not being removed. Optimal timing of other interventions varies based on the nature of the activities.