South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority: Maltby Lakes Southern Pine Beetle Response

Yes
Action
The South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority is working to establish new trees in a forested area that has been affected by southern pine beetle and other management challenges.

Project Area

The South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority owns and manages more than 27,000 acres of watershed land as part of its efforts to ensure a reliable supply of high-quality water to consumers. This adaptation demonstration focuses on a 24-acre area near the Maltby Lake Recreation Area that was damaged by southern pine beetle and recent blowdowns. Until recently, this area was dominated by large Norway spruce and white pine trees that were planted as early as 1902, but a recent infestation of the southern pine beetle is resulting in management to change forest conditions.

Management Goals

The Water Authority uses forest management as a way to protect water quality throughout the watershed. This entails diverse goals to protect forest integrity and key benefits and include protecting wetlands and water courses, conserving endangered species and special habitats, and providing recreational opportunities for residents and visitors.

This particular stand is already undergoing changes that are related to climate change. This stand was infested by the southern pine beetle, a bark beetle that is native to the southeastern U.S. and has been moving northward in response to warmer conditions. The beetle was first found in Connecticut in 2015, and it is raising concerns because populations that are allowed to grow unchecked can lead to large-scale outbreaks that can kill both stressed and healthy trees. As a result, this forest was clearcut during the summer of 2016 to reduce the threat of southern pine beetle on nearby forests

Challenges and Opportunities

Climate change will present challenges and opportunities for accomplishing the management objectives of this project, including:

Challenges

Future climate conditions are not expected to be suitable for many northern species, such as Norway spruce.
Warmer temperatures, particularly in winter, may increase the ability of invasive insect species like the southern pine beetle to establish and cause damage to forests.
Large storm events, which may increase, could cause damage to trees. Recent storms have caused blowdowns in this stand.
Forests that are stressed by changes in climate may be more susceptible to invasive species, insect pests, or diseases.
Forest regeneration, especially of desirable species, is threatened by deer herbivory.

Opportunities

Some tree species, such as oaks and other southern species, may have increased habitat suitability as a result of climate change.
Removing the old and infested trees creates opportunities to establish a new, young forest that can provide wildlife habitat, sequester carbon, and be better-adapted to future climate conditions.

Adaptation Actions

The salvage harvest that was performed in 2016 provides an opportunity to alter the forest in ways that will make it better able to withstand a variety of stressors, including forest pest and climate change. 

The Adaptation Workbook was used to develop several adaptation actions for this project, including:

Area/TopicApproachTactics
Infested stands
2.1. Maintain or improve the ability of forests to resist pests and pathogens.
Strategy 10: Realign ecosystems after disturbance.
The clearcut harvest removed planted Norway spruce and white pine that were infested by southern pine beetle as a means to reduce the potential for the pest reaching outbreak levels and causing further damage.
2.2. Prevent the introduction and establishment of invasive plant species and remove existing invasive species.
Control of invasive plant species where they occur.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
The harvest created conditions that are expected to allow native species, such as oak and tulip tree, to regenerate on the site. These species are projected to have increased suitable habitat in the future as a result of climate change.
9.1. Favor or restore native species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
9.3. Guide changes in species composition at early stages of stand development.
9.7. Introduce species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions.
Additional trees may be planted to the site, with an emphasis on species that are expected to be adapted to future conditions and are known to store more carbon.
9.4. Protect future-adapted seedlings and saplings.
Planted seedlings may need protection from deer herbivory.

Project Photos

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Learn More

To learn more about this project, contact Maria

Keywords

Insect pests, Invasive species, Upland conifers, Carbon mitigation, Regeneration, Water resources

Last Updated

Monday, September 11, 2017