Archive for October, 2011

Links For 10-27-2011

Posted: October 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

Two-tours-of-duty Marine war veteran Scott Olsen is in critical condition today with traumatic brain injury following a police attack at Oakland Occupy. US Marines are outraged.

Here is a short article on grandparents raising children in increasing numbers due to mental illness, incarceration and other causes.

In California’s supermax facilities such as Pelican Bay, reform could transfer hundreds of inmates out of sensory deprivation isolation cells.

Crane FAIL:

Today’s pumpkin is from Madmarv 00 on flickr under noncommercial, attribution nonderivative creative commons:

Halloween_Pumpkins_2009_13

This is the third and last part of the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic series. If you are just tuning in now, no worries, there is a bit of interesting information here.

I would like to give another shout-out to the JCTC Biology instructor by name, but I cannot quite recall his name (it may be Burke- not sure), so if someone knows it, please tell me, so that everyone in the blogosphere will know about his good work and dedication to prison education. I think his wife may also be involved in prison work as well.

That inmate education for nonviolent Class D Kentucky offenders is being eliminated is tragic. I wonder what the rationale is for eliminating education, treatment and job skills training and ability to exit incarceration with vouching work references in hand is. Class D nonviolent offenders will be released into the community. As a member of the community, what would you prefer: an educated person, with references in hand, who is excited about turning the second half of her life into a positive, or a warehoused, traumatized person who has spent several years on the cement floor of an overcrowded jail cell learning a new criminal skill set?

note: Frog Gravy is a nonfiction incarceration account in Kentucky.

Rocky Mountain Vista
Rocky Mountain Vista by Krossbow on flickr under Creative Commons.

Mountain Pine Beetle Epidemic Related terms Of Interest

boreal– of or pertaining to the North (think Aurora Borealis). Forest areas of the North Temperate Zone.

endemic-of animals. Prevalent in a particular region.

epidemic– A rapid spread, growth or development (ie: United States incarceration rates)

pandemic-epidemic over a wide geographical area.

silviculture– the cultivation of forests.

carbon sink– a natural carbon vacuum or reservoir.

xeriscape– water-conserving landscaping.

defensible space– The area around a structure that is treated or cleared, to reduce or slow a fire.

verbenone– a “no vacancy” pheromone sign.

chlorotic– yellowed or brownish red due to diminished chlorophyll and cell death in leaf tissue.

Carbon and temperature

As atmospheric CO2, in parts per million, rises, so does the earth’s surface temperature. This, in turn, leads to drought and stresses trees, making them more susceptible to infestation. Killed trees then become a fire-prone fuel source, susceptible to intense-heat fire. In cyclic fashion, more fire leads to more CO2.

The Canadian Forest Service no longer lists its huge forests as a “carbon sink,” because at the moment, the opposite is true: they have changed from natural carbon vacuum (sucking up 55 million tons per year) to producer (245 million tons per year).

Silviculture, human perception and intervention

In terms of forest management, who or what caused the current forest decline is irrelevant. Nature is taking its course without regard to political views. Since humans are an integral part of our North American forest ecosystem, forest management is a necessary and responsible activity, and not a waste of time or money. Any cascading event such as a forest beetle pandemic will affect current and future timber and recreation industries, raise safety concerns, and motivate further study.

US government grants to the US Department of Agriculture, US Forest Service, can promote meaningful research and forest management. Since no known activities will stop the natural course of the current outbreak, we may need to accept the fact that our future forests will reflect a radical shift from past decades. With that in mind, damage control, safety and public education are primary objectives.

Management efforts include:

-Removal of hazardous trees.
-ongoing public education.
-management and rules for temporary roads and trails, to prevent civilian misuse and injury.
-thinning and reducing fuel load.
-managing fuel breaks.
-monitoring natural regeneration.
-conducting prescribed burning.
-putting blue-stained wood to use.
-continued study, data collection and evaluation.

Summary

Ironically, “beetlewood” has created a temporary sawmill industry boom. Beetles have killed so many trees that some officials have “more than doubled their allowable timber harvest” (Struck, Washington Post). This economic industrial boost will ideally lead to long-term balance and consistency, for environment and industry alike.

References

Campbell, N., Mitchell, L., Reece, J., Biology Menlo Park, CA, 1997. 38.13, Carbon dioxide and other gases added to the atmosphere may cause global warming.

Amman, G., McGregor, M., and Dolph, R., Mountain Pine beetle. Forest Insect and Disease. US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, “Forest Insect and Disease Leaflet.” 1990.

Marcus, N., and Halford, M., Our Future Forests 2008 Guide for the landowner. NW Colorado Forest Health Guide, 2008.

Colorado State University Cooperative Extension
http://www.colostate.edu

US Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Record of Decision, Vail Valley Forest Health Project, March, 2006.

Brown, J., Report: Warming cuts trees’ life in half. 1/23/09.
http://www.denverpost.com

Bentz, B., Western US Bark Beetles and Climate Change. May, 2008. US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Climate Change Resource Center.
http://www.fs.fed.us/ccrc/topics/bark-beetles.shtml.

Fox, M., Pine Beetles May Affect Climate Change- Study. April 23, 2008.
http://www.reuters.com

Struck, D., ‘Rapid Warming’ Spreads Havoc in Canada’s Forests. March 1, 2006.
Washington Post Foreign Service.
http://www.washingtonpost.com.

Clayton, M., Carbon Sink Springs a Leak. March 11, 2009. Christian Science Monitor.

Glick, Daniel. The Big Thaw. National Geographic., September, 2004.

Once again, a hat-tip to my amazing nephew and Vail resident Ray, who provided references. He has worked to help control the epidemic in his area. Plus he is the most amazing extreme skier I have ever seen in my life. He does things on skis that would leave me talking through an electronic voice box for the rest of my life, including, but not limited to being towed, on skis, by a galloping horse, my hand to God, and there is a photo.

Links For 10-26-2011 [updated]

Posted: October 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

If you like to see some great writing about Kentucky issues, please check out North of Center Lexington.

A 24-year-old Iraq Marine veteran has suffered a traumatic brain injury at the Occupy Oakland protest. Here is the video:

The veteran was hit in the face with a tear gas canister. There are mixed reports about his condition, although apparently he remains on a ventilator. If he is in fact critical, it is likely that he is pharmaceutically paralyzed and sedated, with some breaks for neurological assessment, while neurosurgeons decide how to manage the injury, but again, reports at this point are unclear. In the video, the injured man is on the ground, and while others rush to help him, another canister is thrown into the scene.

update #ScottOlsen twitpic:

http://twitpic.com/767wta


An inmate hunger striker in Connecticut appeals force-feeding practices
to the State Supreme Court.

If you are poor, scraping by, or just want to be more frugal, check out this site and this emergency $45 menu for 6. Surf the site liberally, for great information, menus, shopping lists and general tips for frugal living.

In case you missed it, check out the Clay County KY election officials who were sentenced to a collective 156 years for misconduct.

McCracken County Jail

McCracken County Jail by Crane-Station on flickr.

There is a new McCracken County Jail addition under construction:

The new McCracken County Jail

Photo by Crane-Station on flickr.

Nikko, our African Grey Parrot, was a Humane Society rescue from Seattle:

African Grey Parrot

This African Grey Parrot says, among other things, “I’ll kick your balls, son.”

(Our parrot has a colorful vocabulary that includes the timeless “Wub-wub-wub wub wub” exactly like Curly in The Three Stooges, but when I tried to film it, he got mad and knocked the camera out of my hand.)

cross posted at FrederickLeatherman.wordpress.com and republished here, full-text, with permission.

The Homeland Security News Wire, which claims to be “a leading e-information service, delivering daily digital reports, in-depth analysis, news, and researched background on the day’s developments in homeland security, reports today,

Last week in an effort to improve security on U.S.highways, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)establishedcheckpoints at truck weight stations in Tennessee.

Working with the Tennessee Department of Homeland Security, TSA deployed Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) teams across the state to inspect vehicles. The teams included surface transportation security inspectors, transportation security officers, behavior detention officers, and explosive detection canine teams.

“People generally associate the TSA with airport security, and after 9/11 that was our primary focus, but now we have moved on to other forms of transportation, such as highways, buses, and railways,” said Kevin McCarthy, the TSA federal security director for West Tennessee.

The federal statute upon which this program is based is 6 USC 1112.

According to Larry Godwin, the Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Depatment of Homeland Security (TDSHS),

Everything from Wal-Mart merchandise to illegal drugs and illegal immigrants are transported through this area. Current interdiction units are doing a good job, but further coordinated inspections will only strengthen their efforts. If we prepare for the worst, then we are ready for almost anything.

The Channel 5 report concludes:

The random inspections really aren’t any more thorough than normal, according to Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott who says paying attention to details can make a difference. Trott pointed out it was an Oklahoma state trooper who stopped Timothy McVeigh for not having a license plate after the Oklahoma City bombing in the early 1990s.
Tuesday’s statewide “VIPR” operation isn’t in response to any particular threat, according to officials.

Representative Ron Paul released a statement yesterday stating, in part:

“If you thought the ‘Transportation Security Administration’ would limit itself to conducting unconstitutional searches at airports, think again,” Paul said in a statement. “The agency intends to assert jurisdiction over our nation’s highways, waterways, and railroads as well.”
***
“Disarming the highways and filling them full of jack-booted thugs demanding to see our papers is no way to make them safer. Instead, it is a great way to expand government surveillance powers and tighten the noose around our liberties.”

In Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990), by a vote of 6-3, the United States Supreme Court held that the use of sobriety checkpoints in which police stop vehicles on the public highways to check for alcohol or drug impaired drivers does not violate the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Court described the procedure as follows:

Under the guidelines, checkpoints would be set up at selected sites along state roads. All vehicles passing through a checkpoint would be stopped and their drivers briefly examined for signs of intoxication. In cases where a checkpoint officer detected signs of intoxication, the motorist would be directed to a location out of the traffic flow where an officer would check the motorist’s driver’s license and car registration and, if warranted, conduct further sobriety tests. Should the field tests and the officer’s observations suggest that the driver was intoxicated, an arrest would be made. All other drivers would be permitted to resume their journey immediately.

In an opinion written by Chief Justice Rehnquist, the majority concluded that,

In sum, that balance of the State’s interest in preventing drunken driving, the extent to which this system can reasonably be said to advance that interest, and the degree of intrusion upon individual motorists who are briefly stopped, weighs in favor of the state program.

In City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, 531 U.S. 32 (2000), in an opinion by Justice O’Connor, a 6-3 majority held that drug checkpoints set up by the City of Indianapolis violated the Fourth Amendment stating,

The primary purpose of the Indianapolis narcotics checkpoint is in the end to advance “the general interest in crime control.” . . . We decline to suspend the usual requirement of individualized suspicion where the police seek to employ a checkpoint primarily for the ordinary purpose of investigating crimes. We cannot sanction stops justified only by the generalized and ever present possibility that interrogation and inspection may reveal that any given motorist has committed some crime.

Of course, there are circumstances that may justify a law enforcement checkpoint were the primary purpose would otherwise, but for some emergency, relate to ordinary crime control. For example, as the Court of Appeals noted, the Fourth Amendment would almost certainly permit an appropriately tailored roadblock set up to thwart an imminent terrorist attack or to catch a dangerous criminal who is likely to flee by way of a particular route . . . The exigencies created by these scenarios are far removed from the circumstances under which authorities might simply stop cars as a matter of course to see if there just happens to be a felon leaving the jurisdiction. While we do not limit the purposes that may justify a checkpoint program to any rigid set of categories, we decline to approve a program whose primary purpose is ultimately indistinguishable from the general interest in crime control.

As Justice O’Connor noted in her majority opinion, the Fourth Amendment requires “individualized suspicion” to justify an investigatory stop. The test, which the Supreme Court established in Terry v. Ohio is whether the law enforcement officer had a reasonable suspicion to believe that a person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. The test is objective. That is, the suspicion or hunch must be based on an articulable set of facts that would warrant a reasonable person to suspect that a suspect had committed, was committing, or about to commit a crime.

The generalized searches that are being conducted by the TSA clearly are not based on a reasonable suspicion that anyone they stop is engaged in terrorist or any unlawful activity. I also do not see any evidence that the searches are being conducted “to thwart an imminent terrorist attack”, or to make our roads safer, which was the motive for the constitutional DUI checkpoint searches in Sitz. Therefore, I do not see any meaningful difference between the unconstitutional searches being conducted in Edmond and the searches now being conducted by the TSA.

Finally, after the Supreme Court decided Sitz, many state supreme courts relied on provisions in their state constitutions similar to the Fourth Amendment to hold that the DUI checkpoints approved in Sitz were unconstitutional. Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming have done so or outlawed them, according to Wikipedia, and Alaska and Montana do not use them.

The TSA and its parent organization, the Department of Homeland Security, are out of control and need to be stopped. These searches are outrageous and unnecessary. They appear to be primarily motivated by a desire to control people by conditioning them to accept humiliating intrusions into their privacy and snitch on their fellow citizens.

This is not acceptable.

Cross posted from my new law blog
http://FrederickLeatherman.wordpress.com

Cross-posted at FrederickLeatherman.wordpress.com and republished at this site full-text with permission.

In Crane Station’s case, the Court of Appeals said,

In the present case, we hold that Deputy McGuire had probable cause to arrest Leatherman for DUI. Deputy McGuire testified that Leatherman appeared to be under the influence of something, despite his observation that she was not driving erratically or weaving. Furthermore, Leatherman failed the HGN test, which reveals intoxication by alcohol or some other drug, although she later passed the breathalyzer test. Finally, the product information for Klonopin (Clonazepam) attached to Leatherman’s brief states that patients taking that medication “should be cautioned about operating hazardous machinery, including automobiles, until they are reasonably certain the Klonopin therapy does not affect them adversely.” Therefore, the observation of Leatherman’s glassy eyes and odd behavior coupled with her admission that she was taking prescription medication that included a warning about driving was sufficient to provide Deputy McGuire with probable cause to arrest her for DUI. Therefore, Deputy McGuire’s warrantless arrest of Leatherman did not deprive her of her constitutional rights against illegal search and seizure.

As we shall soon see, this conclusion is unsupported by the evidence and makes no sense.

The Court begins its analysis of the evidence by noting that the deputy

testified that Leatherman appeared to be under the influence of something, despite his observation that she was not driving erratically or weaving.

. So, the Court concedes that there was nothing improper about her driving and it does not say that she was unsteady on her feet, smelled of alcohol, or that she exhibited any mental confusion. In other words, she exhibited no physical or mental impairment.

The Court continued,

Furthermore, Leatherman failed the HGN test, which reveals intoxication by alcohol or some other drug, although she later passed the breathalyzer test.

So, in other words, she passed the breathalyzer test ruling out alcohol intoxication. (Actually it was a portable breath test, or PBT, that the deputy administered to her at the roadside before he handcuffed her and placed her in the back of his patrol vehicle.)

Therefore, with the exception of the HGN test result that I will discuss next, the Court has conceded that the deputy did not see any bad driving or physical evidence of alcohol or drug impairment.

What about the HGN?

HGN is an acronym for horizontal gaze nystagmus. The test was described recently by the Supreme Court of Illinois in People v. McKown, 924 N.E.2d 941 (2010):

Nystagmus is “an involuntary, rapid, rhythmic movement of the eyeball, which may be horizontal, vertical, rotatory, or mixed, i.e., of two varieties.” Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary 1296 (30th ed.2003). The medical dictionary lists 45 types of nystagmus. For example, ataxic nystagmus is unilateral and occurs in individuals with multiple sclerosis. Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary 1296 (30th ed.2003). Congenital nystagmus “may be caused by or associated with optic atrophy, coloboma, albinism, bilateral macular lesions, congenital cataract, severe astigmatism, and glaucoma.” Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary 1296 (30th ed.2003). Gaze nystagmus, which is at issue in the present case, is “made apparent by looking to the right or to the left,” as opposed to fixation nystagmus, “which appears only on gazing fixedly at an object,” or latent nystagmus, “which occurs only when one eye is covered.” Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary 1296 (30th ed.2003).

The methodology employed by law enforcement officers for conducting an HGN testing as a part of field-sobriety testing is explained in detail in our earlier opinion. In brief, the officer first questions the subject to determine whether he or she has any medical condition or is taking any medication that might affect the results of the test. If not, the officer performs a preliminary test to determine whether the pupils of the subject’s eyes are of equal size and whether the eyes “track” equally as an object is moved, at eye level, from side to side. If so, the HGN test itself is performed. The officer looks for three “clues,” assessing each eye separately. The three clues are lack of smooth pursuit, distinct nystagmus at maximum deviation, and the onset of nystagmus at an angle less than 45 degrees. One point is assigned for each clue that is present in either eye. Thus, the maximum score is six, which would indicate all three clues present in both eyes. A score of four or more is considered “failing” and indicative of alcohol impairment. McKown I, 226 Ill.2d at 249-50.

After reviewing all of the evidence presented by the prosecution and the defense relative to the HGN Test and whether it is generally accepted as an indicator of alcohol or drug impairment [the Frye test or standard for the admissibility of scientific evidence], the Supreme Court concluded,

1. HGN testing satisfies the Frye standard in Illinois.

2. HGN testing is but one facet of field sobriety testing and is admissible as a factor to be considered by the trier-of-fact on the issue of alcohol or drug impairment.

3. A proper foundation must include that the witness has been adequately trained, has conducted testing and assessment in accordance with the training, and that he administered the particular test in accordance with his training and proper procedures.

4. [Testimony regarding] HGN testing results should be limited to the conclusion that a “failed” test suggests that the subject may have consumed alcohol and may [have] be[en] under the influence. There should be no attempt to correlate the test results with any particular blood-alcohol level or range or level of intoxication.

5. In conjunction with other evidence, HGN may be used as a part of the police officer’s opinion that the subject [was] under the influence and impaired.” (Emphasis in original.)

(Emphasis supplied)

What exactly must a police officer do to properly administer the HGN test? The Illinois Supreme Court details the NHTSA procedure in its earlier decision remanding the McKown case to the trial court with instructions to conduct a Frye hearing. People v. McKown, 875 N.E.2d 1029, 1032 (2007):

Because alcohol consumption can cause nystagmus, police officers have been trained to check a person’s eye movements when attempting to determine if a driver has been driving while impaired by alcohol. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association’s (NHTSA) DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Instructor Manual sets forth the procedure for administering an HGN test in the field. First, the officer is required to ask the subject if he or she wears contact lenses or has any medical impairment that would affect the test results or prohibit the subject from taking the test. If the subject claims to wear hard contacts, or have natural nystagmus or any other condition that may affect the test results, the officer should note the condition but still administer the test if possible. NHTSA DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Instructor Manual, ch. VIII, at 6-18 (2002).

After these preliminary questions, the officer asks the subject to focus on an object, such as a pen, held just above eye level, about 12 to 15 inches from the subject’s nose, and to follow the object as the officer gradually moves it from side to side.

While conducting the test, the officer looks for six nystagmus “clues,” three in each eye, that, according to the NHTSA Manual, indicate impairment. If four or more clues are present, the subject is determined to have failed the test and be impaired. The clues are (1) lack of smooth pursuit; (2) distinct nystagmus at maximum deviation, meaning any nystagmus exhibited when the eyeball is looking as far to the side as possible; and (3) angle of onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees, meaning any nystagmus that occurs before the object reaches a point that the officer determines to be 45 degrees from the center of the suspect’s face. No measuring apparatus is used in the 45-degree test. The officer is then instructed to have the subject perform the walk-and-turn field-sobriety test and the one-leg-stand field-sobriety test, compile the results of the three tests, and then make the decision whether to arrest the subject. NHTSA DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Instructor Manual, ch. VIII, at 6-18 (2002).

How did Deputy McGuire administer the HGN test? This is how her lawyer described it in the brief she filed in the Court of Appeals:

McGuire should not have administered the test in the first place. McGuire did not testify to any clue Rachel Leatherman gave that she was impaired. She drove in compliance with traffic laws. She produced her license and registration quickly after he asked for them. Her eyes were not watery or bloodshot. Her pupils were not pinpoint or dilated. She was not scratching as some persons who inject drugs might. She did not have a runny nose as is common with some cocaine users. She did not have scabs or needle marks, also common with intravenous drug users. She was not coughing or short of breath; she was not sneezing or sweating. She did not complain of nausea or chest pains. Her face was not flushed. She was alert.

McGuire admitted at the suppression hearing that the HGN result by itself could not provide probable cause. Unfortunately, even assuming arguendo that other indicators had been present, McGuire improperly administered the test.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is an administrative agency housed within the United States Department of Transportation. NHTSA oversees and regulates all matter related to traffic safety. Since 1977, NHTSA has studied various field sobriety tests in order to develop a standardized set of field sobriety tests. As a result of those tests, NHTSA warned police officers to position DUI suspects so that they do not face blinking cruiser lights or oncoming traffic because the lights can create a false nystagmus (optokinetic nystagmus). Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: The Science and the Law, A Resource Guide for Judges, Prosecutors and Law Enforcement.

The field video shows that McGuire positioned Rachel Leatherman facing the blinking cruiser lights and the oncoming traffic. The test was neither administered properly nor documented [he never documented what he did and any of the angles when nystagmus occurred; he simply testified that “she failed all six clues”].

McGuire testified that Leatherman told him she had a prescription for Metoprolol because she had hypertension. Documentation for Metoprolol shows that a side effect can be nystagmus. Under those circumstances, McGuire finding “all six clues” should be found legally meaningless.

As if the Court had not even bothered to read her brief, it ignored her powerful and outcome dispositive legal argument without comment.

Instead, the Court focused on Clonazepam.

Finally, the product information for Klonopin (Clonazepam) attached to Leatherman’s brief states that patients taking that medication “should be cautioned about operating hazardous machinery, including automobiles, until they are reasonably certain the Klonopin therapy does not affect them adversely.”

Notice that the warning does not say that Clonazepam causes physical or mental impairment and no one who takes it in any dosage should ever operate hazardous machinery, including automobiles.

Clonazepam is a benzodiazepine that is routinely prescribed as an anti-seizure medication and to control anxiety. In other words, it is prescribed to make people feel normal so they can lead a normal life doing normal things like driving motor vehicles. The warning only applies to the initial dosage that can be adjusted if it’s too strong. There was no evidence in this case regarding the dosage or how long she had been taking it.

The Court’s refusal to mention, discuss, or distinguish her argument regarding the legally invalid HGN test and its reliance on a misinterpretation of the warning on the product insert for Clonazepam borders on mendacity.

The Court of Appeals concluded,

Therefore, the observation of Leatherman’s glassy eyes and odd behavior coupled with her admission that she was taking prescription medication that included a warning about driving was sufficient to provide Deputy McGuire with probable cause to arrest her for DUI.

Well, excuse me. Odd behavior. What odd behavior? Deputy McGuire testified at the suppression hearing that he did not witness any odd behavior, or he would have noted it in his report. There was no reference to any odd behavior in his report and he was the only witness at the suppression hearing.

Apparently, operating a motor vehicle in full compliance with all traffic laws without speeding, weaving or swerving, and quickly pulling over and stopping in the emergency lane beside the road when signaled to do so by a police officer in a marked police vehicle constitutes probable cause to arrest in Kentucky.

As we like to say in the blogosphere, the Court of Appeals has some splainin’ to do.

Author’s note: People v. McKown is an Illinois Supreme Court case and not binding legal precedent in Kentucky. I used it because it is well written and it lays out the NHTSA procedure for conducting the HGN that Crane-Station’s lawyer included with her brief, together with the NHTSA publication that explicitly warns law enforcement officers not to position suspects facing police cruiser lights and oncoming traffic. See: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: The Science and the Law, A Resource Guide for Judges, Prosecutors and Law Enforcement. Kentucky follows the same rule, but the opinion is not recent and not well written.

Cross posted from my new law blog: http://frederickleatherman.wordpress.com

mountain pine beetle treatments

Photo by Forest Service Northern Region under Creative Commons on flickr, with description:

“Spraying Ponderosa Pine with Carbaryl in May, 2011 in Bitterroot National Forest Campgrounds to prevent Mountain Pine beetle damage. Contractor sprays entire bole of tree to 50 feet high. Carbaryl is a pesticide (Sevin).”

More information on the beetle and the epidemic.

I wrote this descriptive, generalized paper while I was in prison at PeWee Valley (KCIW), for a night Biology class, offered through the college JCTC. While I have a degree in Biology, it had been 30 years since I had taken an introductory course, so I enrolled in this class on “canteen scholarship.” It was taught by a Kentucky Department of Transportation worker who was in charge of managing the side of the roads. This is a huge job. The strips bordering the roads can mean the difference between life and death for travelers, because vines such as the pernicious kudzu can block views. Also, the instructor spoke at length about the multi-million dollar cleanup effort that Kentucky faced, after the ice storm. After his work during the day, the instructor continued in God’s work by donating his teaching to the college and to the prison inmates. It was one of the most delightful classes I have ever taken.

Unfortunately, the prison eliminated education to nonviolent Class D offenders and, in the interest of money, shipped these inmates back into the jails, where there was no hope of college education or treatment of any kind.

Because of my unusually long eight year sentence, I was not transferred with the other Class D inmates. This placed me into a Class C sort of category, and I “grandfathered in” to continue my schooling. I am thankful.

This paper is edited for this site, and I would like to hat tip my nephew Ray, who lives and works in Vail. He was a volunteer in the effort to control the epidemic, and he helped me with some articles, because I had no internet access in the prison. Ray, thank you.

BEETLE 3.2

A mountain Pine Beetle, by WBUR under Creative Commons, attribution, noncommercial, nonderivative on flickr.

The Pine Beetle And Its Life Cycle

The Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB), Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins, is an insect of the largest animal Order, Order Coleoptera (beetles). Its life cycle consists of four complete metamorphic stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The life cycle lasts about a year, and is completed almost entirely under the bark of host evergreen trees that include ponderosa, sugar and whitepines (major), as well as limber, coulter, foxtail, whitebark, pinyon, bristlecone and Scotch pine.

The MPB larvae are parasitic herbivores with biting and chewing mouthparts; most tree damage occurs during the 10-month-long larval stage.-snip-White legless larvae feed on the host phloem tissue from August of one year to June of the next year. Fattened larvae then excavate additional cells for the pupa stage, which lasts about a month. Adults then eat and burrow an exit to the surface, whereupon they fly, sometimes as far as six miles, to neighboring tree stands, where the cycle is repeated. During this flight, often helped by winds, females secrete male-attracting pheromones, bringing more beetles and concentrating attack numbers.

The Trees And Their Life Cycle

Pine trees are gymnosperms (meaning that their seeds are not contained in fruit) that evolved long before flowering plants. A pine contains both male and female gametophytes, a tree’s equivalent to sperm and egg. Female pine cones are fertilized by small male cone pollen. An embryo encased in a seed coat develops, and is dispersed by wind or by animals.

Pine trees extract water from the soil and pull it upward, against gravity, in the xylem tissue, through transpiration- a tree’s equivalent to sweating. Photosynthesis in the needles utilizes sunlight to convert CO2 and water into sugar and oxygen. This process utilizes chlorophyll, a green molecule that is similar in structure to animal hemoglobin. Sugar then moves, in solution, from the needles to other tree parts that require energy, by way of the phloem.

Since sap-containing phloem cells contain sugar, they are a good beetle food source. When osmotic water flows into high-sugar-concentrated resin-filled cells and tissues, a balanced hydrostatic gradient is established. In healthy trees, a copious flow of sap can actually “pitch out” a beetle attack, such that the beetles drown in the pitch. The tree must not, however, be in a state of stress in order to mount this important defense.

I am presenting this in parts, because I believe the entire discussion is too lengthy for the internet.

Next: Endemic versus epidemic and conditions that favor epidemic, and the role of fire.