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Summit County forest health group eyes statewide efforts

Economic use of beetle-killed wood a high priority for forest experts

What to do with all this wood?

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Some key players from Colorado’s emerging  forest health and forest products field will discuss the latest info from a statewide perspective  during this week’s meeting of the Summit Forest Health Task Force roundtable (Aug. 11, 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the community center, 110 3d Ave. in Frisco).

State officials are making a concerted effort to try and spur the utilization of timber from beetle-killed forests. A recent U.S. Forest Service decision to revisit several timber contracts in the state could help breath new life into several mills that have been on the cusp of default — and that could speed up the removal and processing of timber from stricken forests.

Presenters at this week’s Forest Health task force meeting include Amanda Bucknam, of the wood utilization program at Colorado State University. CoWood works to facilitate the retention, expansion, and recruitment of forest and wood product businesses as a means to positively impact Colorado’s forest management, forest conditions, and forest and wood product economies.

Bucknam will describe the newly refurbished Colorado forest products database as well as the inaugural Colorado Forest Products Marketing Conference, set for August 18-19 at the Denver Marriott West in Golden.

Julie Shapiro, of the Colorado Governor’s Forest Health Advisory Council, will give an update on the statewide gathering of forest health collaboratives held in Leadville in late July. The forest health advisory council was created by former Gov. Bill Ritter in 2008 to coordinate efforts that address threats to Colorado’s 24.4 million acres of forestland.

The forest health task force meeting is free and open to the public.

Contact Sandy Briggs at ForestHealthTF@aol.com or 970-389-0987 for details.

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3 Responses

  1. Curious, What condition is the wood from beetle infestation? Is it sound, can it be turned into usable home building lumber, or does it require being chopped into little chips for making pressed board that’s prevalent in the house building industry today? Also, isn’t there a fungus that appears to go along with the diseased trees? What effect might that have to the surrounding earth? Fungus can be very resilient or does it die when the infected tree is cut down? Is it possible that it could effect the regrowth/replanting of the future forest?

    • The condition of the wood depends mostly on its age. It’s generally considered usable for dimensional lumber for at least 3 to 5 years, perhaps longer depending on humidity. Many of the beetle-killed trees are too small for 2X4s, so they can be used for wood chips or pellets, or other “boutique” uses (furniture, fencing).

      The fungus is transmitted by the beetles. I don’t know if it can be spread to uninfected trees any other way, but that’s a good question I will ask next time I speak with forest entomologist. It doesn’t affect the wood structurally, but gives it a characteristic “blue stain” that is appealing to some consumers, not so much to others.

  2. A genuine Colorado picture. Neat to see that you guys in the high country take your dogs everywhere.

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