Thursday, June 24, 2021
Volunteers Try to Turn Away Unwanted Visitors to Bald Mountain
This witchy looking growth in trees signals trouble in the Frenchman’s area.
Thursday, April 15, 2021


Snow still hugs the slopes of Baldy. But as the skiers leave, another group will arrive—a less desirable group.

They are the Douglas fir beetles and they have been launching a full-on attack on Bald Mountain since the 2007 Castle Rock Fire, depositing tiny white eggs in the trees, their feeding larvae blocking the flow of food and water between the trees’ roots and needles.

A few dozen volunteers, including students from the Sun Valley Community School, have put in 125 hours during the past month skiing through the woods on Sun Valley Resort’s trophy mountain, tacking bark beetle deterrence packets on trees in the hope of turning these—the most destructive bark beetle of Douglas fir forests--away.

Sun Valley thinned the woods along the new Broadway extension as part of its forest health initiative.

A dozen students from Carey, Mackay and Arco took part, as well as Forest Service and BLM employees such as Nelson Mills who led the charge. Kaz Thea rallied the Sun Valley Community School Students and Hannah Smay at Idaho Conservation League and Christ Leman also recruited volunteers, while Ketchum Ranger District’s Zach Poff handled the logistics and Sun Valley Company contributed ski passes.

The students removed old pheromone packets before stapling new ones, whose chemical substance will tell beetles that the trees are already occupied.

The beetle project is part of the larger Bald Mountain Stewardship Project designed to mitigate insect issues and disease from mistletoe, thereby cutting down on the risk of fire. This year could be particularly stressful for trees because of a two-year drought, which makes it harder for them to fight off beetle infestation.

Sun Valley Company has been working with the Forest Service and BLM to thin dead and dying trees in the Frenchman’s area and above the newly extended Broadway run. A required number of snags per acre were retained for wildlife habitat.

The National Forest Foundation used private donations to plant 10,000 white bark, lodgepole and ponderosa pine seedlings in those areas to help diversify the trees, which will improve the forest health.

An environmental assessment was completed in the fall of 2020 to determine how best to attain forest health and recreational benefit. About 830 acres of timber was inventoried last summer, which will allow Forest Service representatives to write prescriptions for future fuels reduction and forest health work in those area.

Idaho Department of Lands will also treat a parcel adjacent to and just south of Sun Valley Ski Resort since the infestation has spilled over ski resort boundaries.

“If we don’t do this type of treatment, it will be more likely that we have insect infestations down the road,” said Dani Southard, who heads up the National Forest Foundation.



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