1. #1
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    Default Beats the unemployment line...

    Branching out, Smokejumpers do more than put out fires
    By SHERRY DEVLIN of the Missoulian
    What do smokejumpers do when the snow flies and the summer's wildfires subside? Climb trees in Chicago, Brooklyn and Jersey City in search of Asian longhorn beetles. Twenty smokejumpers were in a Chicago neighborhood Wednesday, climbing maple, elm and chestnut trees in search of the inch-long beetles.
    "It's a nice way to end the season," said Frank Castillo, a Missoula jumper and the group's lead climber. "Climbing these big beautiful hardwood trees is a lot of fun. Some of them are pretty massive, actually."
    "We couldn't do this work without them," said Christine Markham, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's national program director for Asian longhorn beetles. "The jumpers are a great group of individuals."
    The wood-boring pests came into the United States aboard wooden packing crates from China, first into Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1996, then into Chicago in 1998. In between, the beetles managed to make the leap across the Hudson River to Jersey City, N.J. Chinese manufacturers used beetle-infested trees to make shipping material because the wood was too riddled with beetle tunnels for use in construction or furniture, Markham said. The United States has since outlawed the importation of wooden packing material from China and Hong Kong. For any Chinese wood to enter the country now, it must be fumigated. The more difficult problem has been eliminating the beetles that flew into - and breeded in - neighborhoods in Chicago, New Jersey and New York. That's where the smokejumpers come in. The only way to rid an area of beetles is to remove all the infested trees, Castillo said. And the only way to tell a healthy tree from an infested tree is to climb it and look for beetle holes. And smokejumpers, by virtue of their training, know how to climb trees - which they accidentally land in from time to time. "Increasingly, we are becoming a national resource," Castillo said. "We've had jumpers from almost every base working on this beetle infestation since 1998. It's phenomenal how many people have contributed to this effort." "With jumpers, it's never a problem to get them to work," he said. "My biggest challenge is to make sure they drive safely in this crazy town."
    For two to five months a year, the jumpers are dispatched into neighborhoods believed to have - or known to have - Asian longhorn beetles. Their job: find the beetles. "It's like putting a thumbtack somewhere in a tree and then sending someone up in the branches to find it," Castillo said. Asian longhorns bore into a tree and head for its circulatory system, ruining the wood with their tunnels and eventually killing the tree. When the beetle exits the tree, it leaves a perfectly round hole a little smaller than a dime. Find the hole and you've found an infestation, Castillo said. If you're lucky, you'll find an actual beetle. Any time the jumpers find a beetle or beetle hole, they mark the tree for removal by the city of Chicago. "They immediately cut it down, put it through a chipper and take it to an incinerator," Castillo said. "Within 72 hours, that thing is smoke."
    In its place, the city plants a non-host tree - a species not favored by the boring beetles. (The beetles' favorite trees are maples, box elders, buckeyes, birches, ash, elms and horse chestnuts.) More than 1,500 trees in Illinois and 6,000 trees in New York have been removed in recent years, Markham said. Beginning in 2000, the U.S. Department of Agriculture also treated some trees with chemicals, she added, but the chemicals do not kill beetles already living in a tree. So the pesticides are preventative and are used only on hardwoods not yet infected. This fall, all signs point to a slowing of the infestation. Castillo's crew has not found a single infested tree since they arrived in Chicago on Oct. 19. (Six of the jumpers are from Missoula.)
    But the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service will continue to inspect trees for at least four years after the first "clean" year, Markham said. So she'll still be looking west for smokejumpers every spring and fall.
    "Because our reliance is on a visual survey, and because even with a tree climber it's still easy to miss one little egg site, we'll go back and continue to survey an area even after the last beetle is found," she said. "It's just too important to stop this infestation." Markham's own crews can inspect street trees by using bucket trucks, but they don't climb trees - especially Midwestern hardwoods known to grow up to 100 feet high and 50 feet wide. "We need the jumpers," she said. "And we're happy for the work," said Castillo. "We're just glad they thought of us."
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

  2. #2
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    Default

    Remember what Smokey always says kids...

    Clear cutting prevents forest fires...

    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

  3. #3
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    Talking Did you Know..........

    Clear Cutting was invented by the Barber who cut the hair of James Watt, a former Secretary of the Interior. (Any of you kids that are too young to remember, Mr Watt was Bald.....)
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

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