Red pine scale (Matsucoccus resinosae) has been identified on water supply property near the City’s drinking water reservoirs. The scale is a small, non-native insect that has been present in Massachusetts for some time. Once red pine scale is present within a forest stand, it will likely infect all red pines resulting in complete mortality within 1-2 years. Red pines, a non-native species, were planted in small monocultures, generally in the 1930s, and were intended to stabilize the soil thereby protecting the water quality of the reservoirs. There are 37 red pine stands and sub-stands in six towns, totaling about 234 acres, or a little less than 7% of the approximate 3,444 acres of forest owned by the City of Northampton adjacent to the City water supply reservoirs. The red pine stands are located in water supply property located in Northampton, Westhampton, Hatfield, Conway, Whately and Williamsburg.
Red Pine Tree Removal
The Forest Stewardship Plans, completed between 2011-2013, for the forested water supply property at the Ryan and West Whately; Mountain Street and Roberts Meadow Reservoirs noted that the red pine stands were in a state of decline due to a number of pests and pathogens including various bark beetles especially Ips calligraphus, which girdle trees by feeding under the bark; Diplodia tip blight/canker, a fungus that causes girdling cankers in the twigs; a needle-cast fungus that causes needles to break in half or fall off altogether; and armilaria root rot fungus, which girdles roots and the root collar of the tree. However, the scale was not evident during the completion of these plans. Included in the stewardship plans, were silvicultural recommendations to gradually transition the red pine stands to native forest type. The presence of scale will accelerate this transition as the City will take steps to harvest some of the red pine trees.
The red pines will be managed in a number of ways as follows:
- Trees that are still alive and are accessible may be harvested;
- Trees that are still alive and inaccessible will not be harvested;
- Trees that are already dead and pose no safety hazard will remain;
- Trees that are already dead and pose a safety hazard will be cut down wherever possible.