Dwarf mistletoe infestation among trees near Cloudcroft

New Mexico News

CLOUDCROFT, N.M. (KRQE) – As the holidays approach, Forest Service crews near Cloudcroft are dealing with a mistletoe infestation. However, it doesn’t bring the holiday cheer typically associated with it. Dwarf mistletoe is known for killing trees. The Sacramento Ranger District in the Lincoln National Forest will begin removing trees across 11 acres near the Trestle Recreation Area infected with the mistletoe to prevent it from spreading.

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According to a news release from the Forest Service, dwarf mistletoe is a gold-colored parasitic plant that attacks conifers and steals the host trees’ essential nutrients and water. They say there are eight species of dwarf mistletoe in the southwest, each typically preferring a specific type of host tree. The news release states that ponderosa pine dwarf mistletoe has been recognized as one of the most damaging diseases of ponderosa pine in the southwest. They say without intervention, the ponderosa pines at the recreation area would likely be dead within ten years.

Air Curtain Incinerator | Image courtesy Forest Service

The Forest Service says they will be using an Air Curtain Incinerator to remove dwarf mistletoe. The news release state that the incinerator is a mobile trailer designed for high-temperature burning of forest slash. It replaces the need for prescribed burning and is ideal for small projects or projects close to developed areas. The incinerator burns slash created by the treatment with minimal smoke, and the leftover nutrient-dense ash can be added right back to the soil.

The Forest Service says they plan to replant trees in the Trestle Recreation Area next summer.

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