Today, December 5, the Forest Health Protection (FHP) Southern Pine Beetle Prevention Program received the 2011 Chiefs Honor Award for Sustaining Forests and Grasslands. FHP entomologist John Nowak, who serves as team leader of the program, accepted the award at the celebration held in Washington, DC, with fellow team members FHP unit director Wes Nettleton, FHP program manager Don Duerr, and Southern Research Station assistant director Kier Klepzig.
The FHP Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) Prevention Program was developed at the request of Congress after the last major southern pine beetle outbreak, which lasted from 1999 to 2003 and impacted nearly one million acres of forest land in eight states, causing an estimated $1.5 billion in damages. The prevention strategy has been developed and implemented in close cooperation with 12 National Forests and 13 Southern states. Forest Health Protection is a program of USDA Forest Service State & Private Forestry.
Proactive prevention treatments such as thinning forests are known to effectively reduce the effects of southern pine beetle attacks and are best implemented in periods between outbreaks. Treatments associated with the SPB Prevention Program have multiple benefits, including reducing fuel for wildfire, enhancing wildlife habitat, and increasing recreational opportunities.
Since the program started, more than a million acres of pine forests have been treated. More than 13,000 landowners have participated in cost-share programs and hundreds of loggers have taken part in a logger incentive program developed as part of the program. For more information about the program: http://www.fs.fed.us/r8/spb/