The weather forecasters predicted a cold front dropping down from the arctic. Like clock work at 3 AM on Saturday morning the Gallatin valley was enveloped in a mass of arctic air and a westerly blizzard.
Now some might cringe at the thought of temps in this range, yet for our family it was quite nice. Jenni, Isaac and I went out to the Gallatin National Forest to harvest a Christmas tree. We gathered the dogs and in 0 degree temperatures we headed up Hyalite Canyon. The forest service allows one to cut small tress for a $5 fee. A good deal any day.
As a amateur forester looking for a tree is quite a bit of fun. Rather than taking the perfect tree with perfect symmetry and branches, we tend to home in on the “Charlie Brown” trees. A tree that will fill our living room with the scent of pine trees and the spirit of Christmas. The trees we that fetch are in a group. By taking the one that will allow the others to grow I try to think that I am doing a little thinning on behalf of the Forest Service.
Cold is cold but does it help out? In the Northern Rockies we are beset by the Pine Bark Beetle. These little insects are ravaging the landscape at they systematically kill off large swaths of forest. In the past the beetles would be kept in check by three to four weeks of these really biting cold temps. With climate change the beetle has had it easy. The cold snap that snaps their back hasn’t happened as frequently as it should. Hopefully we’ll have more cold temps.