The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is continuing to work with the U. S. Forest Service and others to manage southern pine beetle (SPB) on Long Island. Suppression activities for SPB are scheduled to start at Wertheim during the week of December 7, 2015.
Surveys for SPB, conducted by refuge staff, have indicated some new infestations near the White Oak Trail and Yaphank Creek. Approximately 100 trees with live beetles are targeted for cutting at Wertheim. Getting these infested trees down prior to winter should help to allow for maximum exposure to the cold temperatures and winter elements to help increase beetle mortality. The removal of cut trees and the thinning of additional trees in overstocked areas may also take place in the winter and spring of 2016.
To ensure public safety and support the management activities, the refuge is planning to close the White Oak Nature Trail starting the week of December 7th. The trail closure is expected to last for one week, and staff will work to re-open the trail as soon as management activities are complete. Visitors are welcome to use the Black Tupelo Trail and the Connector Trail as alternatives. The Visitor Center and outdoor restroom facilities will remain available.
Southern pine beetle was confirmed on Long Island in October 2014, and for the first time in New York State. The southern pine beetle, a bark beetle native to the southern U. S., has steadily expanded its range to the north, possibly due to climate change. Considered one of the most destructive forest pests in the United States, the beetle attacks all species of pine including pitch pine, the predominant species found in the Long Island Pine Barrens. To control the spread of southern pine beetle, approximately 1,300 SPB infested trees were cut on the refuge during March through April 2015. Thinning was also applied to 23.5 acres to improve forest health.
Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1947 to preserve habitat for migratory birds. The refuge is located along the Carmans River in Suffolk County, New York, and protects one of the last undeveloped estuaries on Long Island. Refuge management programs have expanded to also include the protection of federally-listed endangered and threatened species, the conservation of native flora and fauna, and the provision of wildlife-dependent public uses. For additional information, visit http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Wertheim/ or contact the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex Office at 631-286-0485.