Officials with the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) are puzzled over a seemingly new disease affecting ponderosa pines (Pinus ponderosa) in the region. They are discouraging culling trees with discolored needles until they can determine the underlying cause of the disease; this may mean waiting until June when the ponderosa pines produce new needles. According to Tom Eckberg, an IDL forest health specialist, “It has no rhyme or reason and doesn’t fit the pattern of typical diseases.”
So far, it seems the disease is limited to populations growing at lower elevations, trees in the mountains are not displaying the reddish-browning of needles similar to those in and around Moscow, ID. The first damage of its kind was identified mid-December 2014 in Clearwater County. Further damage was soon discovers in Coeur D’Alene, Hauser, Boise and Hathdrum. Damage appears on growth from the last season and is only present on a couple of trees in a stand, while surrounding trees remain unaffected.