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Landscape Scale Research Addresses Red Oak Borer in Upland Oak-Hickory Forests

Southern Research Station and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests - December 2004

As part of implementing the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003, the Southern Region of the Forest Service and the Southern Research Station, in cooperation with several universities and state agencies have launched a landscape scale research project (1,000 acres) examining the most effective ways to mitigate the outbreak of red oak borer in the Ozark Mountains. As red oak borer infestations continue to spread, plaguing forests throughout the Eastern states, research into the factors that contribute to severe infestations, as well as the characteristics of tree stands resistant to the threat, may be the best approach to addressing the situation. This research includes numerous valuable partners ranging from government to academia.

The goal of this applied silvicultural assessment is to develop and test different silvicultural practices to reduce problems associated with the current outbreak of the red oak borer, and to translate that information in effective ways to practicing professionals and the public.

Purpose and Need

The red oak borer is native to North America, where it occurs naturally from southeastern Canada and Maine to Florida, and west to Minnesota. In the red oak forests in the interior highlands of Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma forest conditions are compromised due in part caused by drought, poor growing conditions, and too many trees. In many cases, these conditions result in the naturally occurring borer becoming epidemic. In the Ozark National Forest, the red oak borer is estimated to have impacted more than 340,000 acres with an estimated loss of $29 million in timber value alone.

The project involves:

  • Identifying forest management activities that reduce the outbreak of red oak borer
  • Determining the best forest management approach to sustaining the red oak forests.
  • Distribute the findings to land mangers in the field and the landowners they serve.

Partners Include

  • Southern Research Station
  • University of Arkansas
  • Cooperative Extension Service
  • Arkansas Forestry Association
  • Region 8, USDA Forest Service
  • Arkansas Forestry Commission
  • Arkansas Game & Fish Commission
  • The Nature Conservancy, Arkansas Field Office