Federal money announced to fight Alaska spruce bark beetles

KENAI, Alaska (AP) – The U.S. Forest Service is providing funds to the state to help address an accelerating spread of spruce bark beetles.

During a recent U.S. Senate hearing, Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen said the agency would transfer $2 million in carry-over funds to the Alaska Division of Forestry. The money is intended to remove hazard trees and build fuel breaks.

According to the state forestry division, spruce beetles affected more than 1.3 million acres (a half million hectares) statewide during the 1990s. But that area has grown to more than 6 million acres (2 million hectares) through 2010. Forest Health Program Manager Jason Moan says the current outbreak has affected more than 900,000 acres (36,4225hectares) since 2016.

The Peninsula Clarion reports the beetles are active during summer months, when they emerge from infested trees to new host trees to feed and breed.