The southern pine beetle prevention initiative: working for healthier forests
The southern pine beetle (SPB) is the most destructive forest pest in the South. After a recent SPB outbreak, the US Forest Service (Forest Health Protection and Southern Research Station [SRS]) received SPB Initiative (SPBI) funding to focus more resources on proactive SPB prevention work. This funding is being used for on-the-ground accomplishments, landowner education, and research and development. Since 2003, on-the-ground accomplishments have totaled over 500,000 ac of thinning and restoration work on state, private, and national forestland. The SRS (SRS Research Work Unit 4552) has worked, internally and externally, on projects addressing (1) the risks and costs of SPB, (2) preventing and controlling SPB outbreaks, and (3) recovery from SPB outbreaks. Much work has been accomplished through the SPBI and will hopefully have a long-lasting impact. This article describes the history, current practices, and the accomplishments for the first 6 years of the SPBI.