Stump Buster Brings Observation to Prevent Forest Disease and Wildfire

DanForestry, This Land of Ours

A long time U.S. Forest Service pathologist uses decades of observation of local forests to determine threats of disease, invasive pests, and wildfire. Rod Bain has the story coming up on This Land of Ours.

Martin MacKenzie, a forest pathologist for the USDA Forest Service, South Sierra Shared Service area, observes brown needles in a young sugar pine in the Stanislaus National Forest. This may be a symptom of white pine blister rust.
Nov. 2022. (USDA Forest Service photo by Jamie Hinrichs)

A 55-year career for US Forest Service pathologist Martin MacKenzie has earned him several titles such as professional observer and stump-buster for his ability to break stumps to find plant disease and fungus that lessen tree mortality and his ability to identify dead and dying trees in a five forest region in California.

“Where these trees die and fall on the ground, they become thousand-hour fuels and they’ll burn for a thousand hours when they catch fire. But once you’ve got dense vegetation in taller trees and low vegetation underneath, it can crown fire and that’s what’s the most dangerous. That’s when we lose the greatest number of trees,” MacKenzie said. MacKenzie’s method for developing his observation abilities is taking one area of forest at a time and spending time seeing and creating his mental picture of what a normal forest looks like versus one that has signs of unhealthy trees and vegetation. Rod Bain reporting for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC.

Listen to Sabrina Halvorson’s This Land Of Ours program here.

Stump Buster Brings Observation to Prevent Forest Disease and Wildfire

Sabrina Halvorson
National Correspondent / AgNet Media, Inc.

Sabrina Halvorson is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and public speaker who specializes in agriculture. She primarily reports on legislative issues and hosts The AgNet News Hour and The AgNet Weekly podcast. Sabrina is a native of California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley.