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Morning photo: Forests, part 1

Colorado’s forests are changing …

A delicate woodland forget-me-not growing in a montane lodgepole-aspen stand near Frisco, Colorado. As lodgepoles die and more sunlight reaches the forest floor, diversity increases in the understory. With a warmer climate, it's not clear whether all of the lodgepole forests will regenerate. Some areas may become open meadows, others may see new stands of aspen.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Tracking the impacts of the pine beetle epidemic is easy in much of western Colorado — just look for the red or gray dead trees. But the changes that happen after the trees die are more subtle. In some places, new lodgepoles are already sprouting and younger trees that were untouched by the insects are growing quickly — up to six inches per year in favored spots, which is dramatic for slow-growing conifers. In other areas, shrub and grasslands will probably dominate. Have a look at a few Summit County forests in today’s photoblog.

A quick reminder that some of the outstanding Summit Voice photography is for sale in a couple of online galleries, including Imagekind and Redbubble, where we have a beautiful Summit County calendar available.

If you’re a Flickr member, check out our new Frisco Group and add your photos. If we get a few more people to join in this group, it may start showing up in the Starbucks wifi portal as a local link, so tell your photographer friends.

A gorgeous sunrise shot, but look closely at the color of the trees on the flanks of Mt. Royal. They are red and dead.

In areas where the trees aren't too crowded together, some lodgepoles have managed to survive, along with isolated stands of Douglas Fir like these giants on the flanks of Ptarmigan Mountain.

A healthy branch on a Douglas fir growing on Tenderfoot Mountain, above Dillon Reservoir, Colorado.

After a clearcut logging project along Swan Mountain Road.

A blooming Wood's rose contrasts with the dead needles of a beetle-killed lodgepole in the Straight Creek drainage near Dillon, Colorado.

Aspen stands may expand in response to the pine beetle epidemic.

A stump serves as an incubator for a tender fir seedling along the banks of Straight Creek, with forest fungi helping to decompose old wood and provide food for the new trees.

A few years ago, this wildflower meadow near Frisco was a dense lodgepole pine forest. In this area, there is very little sign of forest regrowth.

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