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Yellowstone National Park Report

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A research project was initiated in 1980 to study the effects of outbreaks of the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) on lodgepole pine forest (Pinus contorta Dougl. ssp. latifolia) in Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas. This native insect apparently has long been associated with lodgepole pine, and reports of small numbers of beetles can be found in Park records as early as 1925. However, in the late 1940's and early 1950's major outbreaks began to occur on the Caribou and Targhee National Forests immediately to the west and southwest of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. An outbreak in Grand Teton National Park and the adjacent Teton National Forest began in the 1950's, with an explosive increase in 1961 followed by an eventual subsidence in the late 1960's. The first major outbreak in Yellowstone National Park began in the late 1960's in the Bechler and South Entrance areas, reaching a peak there in 1970 and later declining. Yearly aerial surveys conducted thereafter showed a steady northward movement of the outbreak through the western half of the Park at a rate of 1 - 5 km per year. By 1978 the peak outbreak was centered around West Yellowstone, with hundreds of infested trees per hectare. The outbreak is now moving north and east along the Madison and Gibbon Rivers, with the greatest beetle populations currently in the vicinity of Madison Junction.