Louisiana has a beetle problem and it's so bad that our Legislative House created an "emergency beetle subcommittee" to deal with it.

On Tuesday, July 9, the subcommittee met to discuss how to deal with this ongoing environmental crisis that is reportedly threatening Louisiana's citizens and the timber industry.

What kind of beetle has infested Louisiana?

According to the USDA's Climate Change Resource Center, bark beetles that infest and reproduce in trees are capable of causing tree death in droves. Additionally, the risk of tree death increases during strenuous weather conditions such as droughts.

The committee discussions

The emergency beetle subcommittee held discussions on various topics during its hearing, ranging from insurance costs, overall costs to amend the ongoing crisis through state methods, the effects bark beetle infestations have on state industries, and the possible safety issues that can arise from dead or strained trees.

Bark Beetle Populations Surge Due To Hot And Dry Weather
Sean Gallup, Getty Images

Death in Louisiana

Proving that this is a serious issue, on April 10, a 60-year-old woman from Pineville died after a tree and a powerline fell on her home. According to State Representative Mike Johnson, the fallen tree was infested with bark beetles.

What the experts are saying

During the subcommittee hearing, a common statement was echoed through several testimonies, encouraging Louisiana to take an aggressive approach to addressing this bark beetle issue statewide:

“It’s really hard to manage these beetles. So really as other folks have said, anything we can do to be proactive and really make the trees as vigorous as possible as a barrier to these problems”

-- Dr. Todd Johnson, Assistant Professor, LSU Entomology Department

“We know those trees fall. Knocking out power does have a significant health and safety concern for our people, and those are just some of the places I’ve been looking at. In the Commission, we can be more aggressive to really make this crisis known and be proactive in our fight.”

-- Davante Lewis, Public Service Commissioner District 3

“See that’s the thing, it’s not just ‘hey, I lost a tree,’ it’s ‘I lost a tree, and I’m afraid to sleep in this bedroom because it’s within distance to where that tree can fall.’”

-- State Representative Mike Johnson, (R) District 27 

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Gallery Credit: Martha Sandoval