Mandan News

Earthlodges under attack

Powder-post beetles are attacking the earthlodges by eating and worming their way through the lodge poles at the On-A-Slant Village at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park south of Mandan. (Photo by Mike McCleary)

Powder-post beetles are attacking the earthlodges by eating and worming their way through the lodge poles at the On-A-Slant Village at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park south of Mandan.
(Photo by Mike McCleary)

Brian Gehring
Lee News

The earthlodges at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park are under attack by a pesky insect called powder post beetles.

Tracy Potter, executive director of the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation, said his group has sent a $7,200 check to the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department to pay for treating the infestation.

The six earthlodges at North Dakota’s oldest state park are part of the On-A-Slant Village that dates back to about 1575, when the Mandan Indian tribe established a community near the confluence of the Missouri and Heart rivers.

Dan Schilske, the park manager, said the six lodges were reconstructed starting with the Council Lodge in 1995. Between 2000 and 2007, he said, the remaining six lodges were rebuilt through the foundation.

The foundation and the state parks and recreation department dissolved their partnership more than a year ago, after more than 20 years.

The foundation funded construction of the Custer House and other buildings at the park south of Mandan.

Potter said he wrote a grant proposal to the National Park Service in 2012 for technical assistance and funds to address the problem of the beetles attacking the cottonwood logs that hold up the Mandan lodges.

The funds were awarded through the National Park Service’s Lewis and Clark Historic Trail division, he said.

“Those lodges are pretty important to me,” Potter said in a statement. “We wish the department well in keeping them standing. We sent a check … to help protect the earthlodges.”

Schilske said damage from the infestation isn’t noticeable, aside from small “shot holes” in the surface of the logs.

The holes are exit holes where the adult beetles chew their way out.

The damage to the logs is done by the beetles’ larvae as they feed on the wood, creating tunnels as they feed.

Schilske said the evidence of an infestation is noticeable by a sawdust-like powder that sifts out of the exit holes.

He said the money from the foundation should mostly cover the cost of an environmentally-safe insecticide to treat the infestation, but the park may have to kick in some money for a sealant and for the cost of a contractor to do the work.