HAMPTON BAYS - Department of Environmental Conservation officials and state lawmakers toured pine beetle-infested areas on the East End Wednesday to survey the damage caused over the harsh winter.
Rob Marsh, of the DEC, says a full-blown infestation is present in an untreated area of the Pine Barrens region of East Quogue. Infested trees start out green and healthy, but the destructive beetles eventually turn the trees yellow and then brown. The decay could occur within a month's time.
The DEC cut down more than 2,400 pine trees in an area called Henry's Hollow over the winter.
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Marsh says they had hoped the winter would cause a significant mortality rate among the beetles. Even though some trees had a mortality rate as high as 90 percent, Marsh says the remaining 10 percent could still include tens of millions of beetles.
The DEC says it is not known exactly how many of the 155,000 acres of the Pine Barrens are affected.
Officials hope that crews will be able to perform additional suppression this fall, further reducing the beetle population.