Making the Most of Beetle-Killed Trees

Some 20 billion cubic feet of beetle-killed timber now stands in 12 Western states, according to Forest Service estimates. The New York Times was recently in touch with FPL to see what, if anything, could be done with the swaths of dead trees stretching across 23 million acres of U.S. forests.

Mountain pine beetle infestation.

Mountain pine beetle infestation.

The resulting Times story highlights one landowner, Larry Lipson of western Montana, who was determined to find an opportunity within such massive destruction.

Lipson and his family own 37,000 acres of land, including a resort area and ten miles of Blackfoot River shoreline. When the mountain pine beetle began killing trees on this land four years ago, the Lipsons took steps to stop the infestation.

The treatments were effective but the pest still left them with more than 10,000 dead trees. Faced with disposing of thousands of tons of wood, Lipson got creative. His entrepreneurial spirit spurred the launch of Bad Beetle, a company now making accessories for Apple computers, tablets, and phones out of beetle-killed wood.

FPL researchers have been working to find uses for trees killed by invasive insects for more than 50 years. Recently, two useful guides for addressing the issue were published,  Economic Uses for Beetle Killed Trees and Wood Utilization Options for Urban Trees Infested by Invasive Species.