Posted on February 28, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
What’s the role of coniferous trees in regulating climate?
Fast growth of particles from pine tree fumes surprises researchers
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Forests may play a much bigger role in global climate than previously believed. In addition to cycling carbon, it appears that gases wafting from conifers quickly form small particles that can reflect sunlight and promote cloud formation, according to a new study that looked at forest aerosols at the molecular level.
“In many forested regions, you can go and observe particles apparently form from thin air. They’re not emitted from anything, they just appear,” said Joel Thornton, a University of Washington associate professor of atmospheric sciences. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, forests | Tagged: aerosols, atmospheric science, climate, forests, global warming | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 24, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Forest Service wants to reconnect an aquatic ecosystem that was sliced apart by dredges in the mining era
Restoration plans are afoot for a degraded section of the Swan River, in Summit County, Colorado.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — For all the gold Summit County’s old-timers managed to pull from local mountains and rivers, they left behind quite a mess. Along with toxic pollution oozing into rivers from some abandoned mines, other streams were turned completely inside-out, buried under tons of gravel.
That includes the Swan River, near Breckenridge, where the U.S. Forest Service now hopes to reverse some of the damage with an ambitious five- to 10-year restoration project.
The Forest Service aims to recreate of two miles of stream, riparian, and restore uplands that were all destroyed by the dredge boats. The agency also wants to decommission some roads in the area, build a new road and trail, all within a mix ownership of private, county, town, and national forest lands. Another element of the project would create fish barriers to protect populations of cutthroat trout. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Dillon Ranger District, Environment, rivers, Summit County news, US Forest Service, water, White River National Forest | Tagged: Cutthroat trout, Environment, restoration, Swan River | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 12, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Can we log our way to forest health?
Science sometimes missing from forest management policies
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — While politicians and policy makers continue to conflate a number of complex forest health and wildfire issues, a new study suggests there’s little evidence supporting the idea that logging helps to control or contain the spread of tree-killing pine beetles.
Nobody disputes the need to clear trees, brush and other fuels from around homes in fire-prone forest areas, but some lawmakers who should know better have been pushing for more logging under the guise of restoring forest health and as an antidote to insect infestations.
The idea that speedy approval of logging projects could help restore forest health was also used as a basis for short-cutting environmental reviews for logging projects, possibly resulting in negative long-term environmental impacts in forests.
But forest researchers in California and Montana said there isn’t much monitoring to assess the effectiveness of logging, and that failures often aren’t reported, probably because they don’t fit the popular narrative. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles | Tagged: Forest health, forests, logging, pine beetles | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 11, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Budget woes still hindering forest restoration efforts
Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs (standing) speaks with Sen. Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat, at a recent meeting in Frisco, Colorado. bberwyn photo.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — The Colorado high country may be buried in snow right now, but lawmakers and fire experts are already brainstorming about the upcoming wildfire season.
As part of that process, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) met with local officials in Summit County recently to get feedback on recent successes and remaining challenges in forest management and wildfire mitigation policies and actions.
“It’s not a question of if we’re going to have more megafires, but when,” Udall said, without ever mentioning global warming as a key factor in the wildfire equation. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, politics, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, logging, Mark Udall | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 5, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Pine beetle infestation slows, but spruce beetles continue to spread
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — There’s good news and bad news for Colorado forests, according to state and federal officials, who said last week that the mountain pine beetle epidemic slowed dramatically in 2013, while spruce beetles continued to spread.
Statewide, mountain pine beetles were active on 97,000 acres in 2013, the lowest acreage of active infestation in 15 years. Since 1996, mountain pine beetles have killed trees across 3.4 million acres.
Spruce beetle were active on 398,000 acres, expanding by 216,000 new acres in 2013, compared to 183,000 new acres in 2012. The total area affected by this beetle since 1996 has reached more than 1.1 million acres. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles, pine beetles and wildfires, US Forest Service | Tagged: Colorado, Colorado news, Environment, forests, spruce beetles | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 18, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Giant California redwood tree.
Study makes case for maintaining old-growth forests
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Giant old trees play a key role in forest carbon cycles, researcher said this week, dispelling long-held misconceptions about the growth rate of trees.
In fact, trees never stop growing — as they age, their growth accelerates, even after they’ve reached massive sizes. This means that older trees play a substantial and disproportionate role in the Earth’s carbon cycle, one of the cycles that makes Earth capable of sustaining life.
The study, published in the journal Nature, was co-authored by University of Nebraska-Lincoln biologist Sabrina Russo. To reach their findings, the scientists analyzed biomass growth measurements of 673,046 trees belonging to 403 species from various temperate and tropical regions across six continents. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, forests | Tagged: carbon cycle, Environment, forests, old-growth trees | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 10, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Heavy machinery is on the move in the quest to restore Colorado’s forests.
Applications due March 13
FRISCO — Neighborhoods looking to reduce wildfire threats can now apply for grants under a state program that will disburse a total of $5.2 million for projects that reduce the risk for damage to property, infrastructure, and water supplies, and those that limit the likelihood of wildfires spreading into populated areas.
The grant program, administered by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, is accepting applications through March 13. The grants will be awarded in early May. Information and applications are online at the DNR website. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: Colorado, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, forests, wildfire mitigation, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 5, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
White River NF map app now available.
New app puts national forest info at your fingertips
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Along with the many mapping apps already available for smartphones and tablets, the U.S. Forest Service is also putting its popular national forest maps online for Android and iOS devices.
“This mobile app makes it easier than ever to plan your visit to a national forest or grassland,” U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in a press release. “By putting important forest information right at your fingertips, it will encourage more Americans to get outside and explore their forests.”
The PDF Maps Mobile App, developed by Avenza Systems Inc., is available as a free download from iTunes and the Android Play Store. The app provides access to Forest Service maps, such as motor-vehicle-use maps, which are free while pages from national forest atlases are 99 cents and forest visitor maps are $4.99. Prices are pending for other agency maps. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, forests, US Forest Service, White River National Forest | Tagged: maps, national forest maps, national forests, Smartphones | 3 Comments »
Posted on December 28, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Lodgepole pines killed by beetles stand silhoutted against the evening sky in Summit County, Colorado.
Smooth-barked trees better able to repel insects
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Lodgepole and ponderosa pines with smoother bark may be better at repelling tree-killing bugs, according to Boulder-based researchers with the University of Colorado.
The new findings may help forest managers as they plan logging projects, especially in areas where there is a need to protect high-value trees — in developed recreation areas or on private property.
The study was published online in the journal Functional Ecology. While the current pine beetle epidemic has slowed dramatically in many areas, it wiped out millions of trees across 3.4 million acres since 1996. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: CU Boulder, Environment, Forest health, forests, mountain pine beetles | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 2, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Plenty of healthy grasses, forbs and shrubs, along with young lodgepole pines two to three feet tall in this unlogged patch of beetle-killed pines.
Shrub removal also key to moderating fire behavior
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Forest Service scientists say they’ve quantified the relationship between the density of ponderosa pine stands and disease.
The study shows that — no surprise — increased density, mainly due to the agency’s long-term fire suppression policies, makes the trees more susceptible to bark beetles and diseases. Competition for soil moisture, nutrients, and sunlight in dense stands weakens trees and therefore also contributes to fuel buildup. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: Bark beetle, Forest health, logging, Ponderosa pines, United States Forest Service | Leave a comment »