KETCHUM, Idaho (AP) -- U.S. Forest Service officials are proposing a plan to save trees on Sun Valley Resort's famous ski area on Bald Mountain by aerial spraying of a pheromone designed to turn aside an attack of Douglas fir bark beetles.
The ranger district has published a notice on its Web site asking for comments on the proposal before Jan. 8.
"We want people to understand that some of the trees on the mountain will start dying and there's nothing we can do but try to protect the rest of the majestic trees that Baldy is known for," said Joe Miczulski, winter sports specialist with the Sawtooth National Forest's Ketchum Ranger District.
He said the plan is being proposed due to Bald Mountain's importance to the central Idaho region. The ski area is typically ranked among the top in the nation and draws tourists from across the country.
"Given Bald Mountain's importance to people here in the Wood River Valley, we want to inform them of what we think is a pretty serious consequence of the Castle Rock fire," he said. "We probably wouldn't propose this if it was out in the middle of nowhere."
He said if a decision is reached the pheromone could be deployed in April or May, and then again in late June or early July.
Officials said trees on the mountain are vulnerable due to a sharp increase in the bark beetles that have surged following the large Castle Rock Fire in 2007. Miczulski said the beetle pheromone is intended to trick beetles into thinking trees are already infested.
"'This tree is already occupied by enough eggs and can't support new eggs, so go somewhere else,' is basically the message this MCH (pheromone) tells other beetles," said Miczulski. "I think there might be a fear among people of the pheromones we propose to use, but they're naturally occurring and have no known negative effects on the environment or people."
Miczulski said a survey last summer found some timber stands between ski runs are already infested.
"Our goal now is to keep the next generation of beetles, which typically begin flying in late April, from spreading into green trees on lower Warm Springs and the River Run side of Baldy," he said.