Dr. Peter Kolb, author and producer of ‘The Montana Forestry Minute’ appeared on the KGVO Talk Back Show on Monday to answer listeners’ questions about the problems they have on their properties.

Dr. Kolb first addressed the question about why the normally brilliant fall colors never really appeared in western Montana this year.

“The process where deciduous trees recycle the nutrients and the sugars and the starches in their leaves, which causes changes in colors as they break down chlorophyll, and you see more of the flavonoids which provide us with the yellows and the Reds out there,” said Dr. Kolb. “That process got stopped when those leaves froze because freezing of live tissue does the harm because the water turns into ice. It expands in the form of ice and those ice crystals then blow up the cell structure.”

Dr. Kolb said the leaves that are just hanging on the trees will fall eventually.

“The trees will eventually drop those leaves,” he said. “For a lot of them because the physiology got stopped, those dead leaves will hang on for an extra couple of months depending on the tree species and then they'll drop on the snow. This is actually the second year in a row where that has happened.”

Dr. Kolb also discussed the Montana Forest Action Plan begun by Governor Steve Bullock several years ago.

“The concept is that insects, diseases, or fires don't stop at fence lines and neither should our management,” he said. “This is a process. Now that we have the tools with satellite imagery and all of that is we can step back and we can do an analysis of our all of our forest ecosystems in Montana.”

Dr. Kolb said the plan helps to delineate steps that can help provide a statewide forest strategy.

“We can assess them for their values, whether it's water or wildlife, and it's all of those values but some areas have a higher wildlife value in some areas have a higher water value etc,” he said. “In addition, we have the urban interface and a human recreation area. So this is a cohesive attempt to get all the experts all the special interests in one room in one group to hammer out how we are going to look at forests across Montana.”

Dr. Kolb’s Montana Forestry Minute appears twice a day on the Montana Morning News program, as well as on other radio stations throughout the state.


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