Ponderosa pines on Front Range now taking the brunt of the attack, but secondary beetle-kill also taking a toll in other areas
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Aerial survey results released Jan. 21 show that bark beetles spread across an additional 400,000 acres in 2010, mostly moving to the north and east and into Ponderosa pine stands in the northern Front Range. A total of about 4 million acres are now affected by the insect epidemic.
Links to all the latest information is available at this Forest Service website.
The acreage encompasses lands on three national forests in Colorado and Wyoming that have been at the heart of the infestation. It includes lodgepole, five-needle and ponderosa pine tree types.
If there’s good news, it’s that the tree-killing insects haven’t made a big move to the south and the west, into the dense lodgepole pine forests around Leadville, on the Pike-San Isabel National Forest, for example.
It may be that prevailing westerly and southwest winds are a factor in the direction of the spread, said Rocky Mountain region Forest Service spokesperson Janelle Smith. The survey results also suggest that the pine beetles are hitting pockets of trees that survived the initial onslaught within areas that have already been attached by the bugs.
While the bark beetle continues to spread rapidly along the Front Range and into ponderosa pine trees, forest managers are focusing their efforts on public and employee safety to help protect them from the threat of falling trees and increased fire danger.
“We were extremely aggressive in 2010 with our efforts to remove trees killed by the bark beetle to reduce the risk of falling trees to forest visitors and employees,” said Tony Dixon, acting forester for the Rocky Mountain region. “There is still much work to be done and we will use every tool available to continue this critical work, including work through valuable partnerships with sister agencies, communities, the wood products industry and others,” he added.
Filed under: Colorado, Forest health, forests, pine beetles Tagged: | Bark beetle, Forest health, Mountain pine beetle, pine beetles, Pinus ponderosa, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region