Agriculture Department Investigates Insects in Northwest Forests

Sep 26, 2016

Northwest forests once attracted government scientists investigating tree-damaging insect infestations.  

In 1899, Dr. A.D. Hopkins studied a huge area of coastal hemlock and tideland spruce that had been dead for eight years because of defoliation.  The project led to formation of the Office of Forest Insect Investigations within the Department of Agriculture, which assigned entomologists to the Pacific Northwest. 

Two agents, Harry Burke and W.D. Edmonston, began investigating infestations of mountain pine beetles that were killing millions of lodgepole and ponderosa pines.  In September 1911 Edmonston worked on bark beetles out of Parker Station on the road between Klamath Falls and Ashland. 

Eventually, the only year-round field station of the Forest Insect Investigations was in Ashland, because of the availability of good transportation, lodging and a railroad.  The staff continued to work on beetle problems, especially a huge outbreak around Yreka. 

From 1912 to 1925, Ashland was the base of operations as the first permanent forest research facility.  Today the remnants of the field station are gone except for an old house on Third Street.

Source: Wickman, Boyd E. "Early Forest Insect Research in the Pacific Northwest: Ashland Field Station, 1912-1925." Oregon Historical Journal (1987). Print.