PALMER, Alaska — The Matanuska-Susitna Borough is offering free sites for residents to dispose of spruce beetle-killed trees.
The move comes as officials try to reduce fire danger amid a spruce beetle infestation, the Anchorage Daily News reported .
The sites are the borough’s central landfill, as well as transfer stations at Big Lake and near Talkeetna. The service is available only to borough residents for private, not commercial, use.
The disposal sites are part of an initiative announced Thursday by officials.
The insects are native to Alaska. The infestations have come in cycles, with the last one damaging nearly 4,700 square miles (12,173 sq. kilometres) in south-central Alaska, primarily on the Kenai Peninsula.
The ongoing infestation, fueled by warmer winters, has affected nearly 1,600 square miles (4,144 sq. kilometres) in the state, more than half of that in the Mat-Su Borough.
To reduce spread, infested trees should be disposed of by burning or cutting up to dry, experts say.
Borough Mayor Vern Halter said he has removed at least 150 trees on his Willow property.
“It’s a tremendous amount of work,” Halter said during Thursday’s press conference. “We’re facing a huge task here in the state of Alaska and the Mat-Su Borough. I really welcome everyone’s efforts to work on this problem.”
State parks officials closed South Rolly Lake Campground in Nancy Lake Recreation Area and Byers Lake Campground in Denali State Park because of dead and potentially dangerous trees. To cut down on infested trees, state foresters are receiving $2 million in federal funding.
The Associated Press