Logger busy felling beetle killed pines

Pine Beetle near Lincoln, MTWatching majestic ponderosa pines turn bronze, killed off by the mountain pine beetle is heart breaking.

However, with logging jobs drying up, the beetle epidemic has created an opportunity for Kemmer and others.

Private landowners are hiring loggers to remove pine beetle-killed trees, both to prevent the trees from falling on structures and to prevent the beetle from infesting other trees on their property.

“Last year was the worst year in this area, as far as infestation goes,” said Kemmer. “I’ve been busy. It seems like it’s feast of famine … people will hire us to remove trees as they can afford it.”

John Pistelak of Lincoln, whose primary career is in real-estate sales, started a side business a couple of years ago spraying for mountain pine beetle and spruce budworm.

“If you live in Lincoln, you need to have a couple of jobs,” said Pistelak.

He was busy during the early spring and summer months doing prevention spraying.

“You’re hopping, but that’s because you are behind due to wind or rain” said Pistelak. “It’s been a good side business, like a summer job, for me.”

Although economists have not estimated a dollar value, there are opportunities for entrepreneurs willing to work both to prevent the pine beetles from spreading and to rid land of trees killed by the pests, said Chuck Keegan, an economist with the Montana Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

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