Follow-up tree mortality survey ongoing in Mississippi

Published 1:21 pm Monday, June 10, 2024

BROOKHAVEN — Preliminary surveys conducted by the United States Forest Service and Mississippi Forestry Commission showed last year’s drought and beetle outbreak killed 12.5 million trees and affected over 80,000 acres across the state. It is not the end of the story. 

Timber mortality numbers could grow in Mississippi as the surveys continue. Lincoln County was one of the hardest hit counties by the drought.

The USFS helped MFC conduct a survey this year  through the Southern Research Station looking at an area of 13,010,098 acres,  2,500,000 acres of the total were made up of pine trees. It is important to note the drought caused stress on the trees and it is likely beetles such as the Southern Pine beetle and Ips beetle attacked stressed trees and killed them. 

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“We are currently working to acquire more up to date satellite imagery to look at other areas of the state that were impacted by the drought/beetles,” Hicks said in an email Monday morning. 

People may have noticed some of the hardwoods in the area have not put on green leaves again. Satellite imagery helped researchers survey the state for pine mortality and could come in handy again. 

“We plan to be able to use this imagery to get an idea of the hardwood mortality as well,” Hicks said. “Talking with hardwood experts, they say it may take a couple of years to really know the extent of the damage to the hardwoods from the drought due to their ability to store water and nutrients more abundantly than pine species.”