Dillon to use chemical spraying to prevent future beetle tree kill
DILLON – The Dillon Town Council has given the town’s public works department the green light to spend $5,000 to administer a chemical spray to prevent pine beetle kill on 500 lodgepole pines in the town core.The spraying will be contracted out to a licensed and certified applicator, who will complete the work later this month. The town wants to save 250 trees in the Town Park and 250 trees in the Marina Park. All the trees are mature and measure at least six inches in diameter, making them prime candidates for future attacks, assistant public works director Scott O’Brien said. The money is not outlined in the 2005 budget, but will be pulled from the general fund with the recent approval from the council.”The whole goal is to try to save these trees,” O’Brien said. “We want to get to a point where we’re not removing so many infested trees from the core area.”To do that, the town is taking an integrated approach to fighting against beetle kill, including selective cutting, aggressive planting and now chemical spraying, O’Brien said.After months of studying toxicology reports, the town selected an EPA-approved chemical that mimics a plant from the same genus as chrysanthemum, which has long been used to kill insects, O’Brien said.”It’s a very safe chemical to use,” O’Brien said. “Of all the chemicals that have been used for controlling insects throughout the years … this is one of the better chemicals we’ve used.”The insecticide, which is identified by the trade name Onyx, is very toxic to aquatic life, moderately toxic to water fowl and slightly toxic to upland birds.Spraying will take place 50 feet from the Dillon Reservoir shoreline, which will be far enough away to cause any harm to reservoir wildlife, he said. The product’s label only requires spraying be done 25 feet from any shore.Other concerns O’Brien addressed were that fewer beetles would diminish a vital food source for area birds.Silverthorne, Breckenridge and the county have all implemented spraying on selected trees as a preventative measure against beetle kill.The town of Frisco is also considering spraying for candidate trees in public parks and the marina. “Obviously, there are plenty of insects and beetles around the town, so I don’t think that’s going to much of a concern,” he said.Town council members had mulled over the topic of chemical spraying during at least two recent work sessions.Each time, council members asked public works personnel to gather more information about possible environmental or health impacts of spraying a chemical in the town’s core area.Last Tuesday, they unanimously approved the expenditure.O’Brien is not yet sure what company the town will hire to spray the trees or the exact day of the spraying, but said people will likely be kept out of the parks for the day, then allowed back in the areas as soon as the application is complete.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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