On Wednesday’s Talk Back show, Dr. Peter Kolb with the MSU College of Forestry and Conservation, housed at the University of Montana, provided an overview of western Montana’s forest health.

“Since 2000, more than 7.7 million acres of forest have burned in wildfires,” said Kolb. “The baseline is that we have 25 million acres of forest. In the last 18 years one third of our total forested area has been burned. 6.5 million acres was significantly impacted by mountain pine beetles. Spruce budworm has severely defoliated Douglas fir by over three million acres, Douglas fir beetles have killed almost a million acres. So, all told, probably about 75 percent of our forests have had some significant alteration in the last 18 years.”

Kolb suggested the most effective method of curbing the growth of wildfires on public lands.

“Where there are federal lands, national forest, BLM, etcetera, where it bumps up against private lands or state lands, that’s where a lot of the work needs to be done so that there is a buffer between these heavy fuel loads in roadless areas and human infrastructure and human population.”

Kolb is the voice and guiding force behind the Montana Forestry Minute program heard daily on KGVO.