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Southern pine beetle infestations affect wilderness areas in the southeastern United States. In the Kisatchie Hills Wilderness area in Louisiana, a southern pine 'beetle outbreak resulted in widespread destruction of longleaf pine. Nest trees of the red-cockaded woodpecker, an endangered species, also were killed. Following the epidemic, a fire fueled by beetle-killed pines went through the wilderness. Forest structure, species composition, successional processes and general ecosystem function were substantially altered as a result of these two related disturbances. Most wilderness areas containing southern pines were managed for pine timber before being designated as wilderness. Bark beetle outbreaks are a predictable form of negative feedback when all management is suddenly withdrawn. Resultant large areas of dead pine create conditions conducive to intense wildfires. Judicious use of bark beetle control tactics and prescribed fire can smooth the transition from managed forest to wilderness by protecting wilderness attributes and red-cockaded woodpecker habitat and cavity trees.



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