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 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 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 »
Posted on November 18, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Beetle-killed lodgepole pines in Summit County, Colorado.
Tracking pheromones may help resource managers slow the spread of infestation
By Summit Voice
*Read extensive coverage of mountain pine beetle and fores health at this Summit Voice link
FRISCO — While the mountain pine beetle epidemic has waned in most Colorado forests, the tiny insects are still killing huge swaths of trees in Canada, where researchers say they may be close finding an effective bait.
The University of Alberta scientists say their results may enable forest managers to get ahead of the destructive spread of mountain pine beetle, which is now killing not only lodgepole pine forests, but jack pine. Continue reading
Filed under: Forest health, forests, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: Forest health, forests, jack pine, mountain pine beetles, University of Alberta | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 22, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Dead lodgepoles have became a common sight in Colorado during the past few years, and a new study confirms that the Forest Service loses money on many salvage logging projects.
Study shows that strong timber markets make all the difference
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A new Forest Service study confirms the conventional wisdom that, under current market conditions, salvage of beetle-killed timber in Colorado is not good for the agency’s bottom line.
The researchers evaluated potential potential revenues from harvesting standing timber killed by mountain pine beetle across the western United States. Positive net revenues are possible in regions with strong timber markets, including along the West Coast and in the northern Rockies.
The central Rocky Mountain states of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming — which have the largest volume of standing dead timber — would not generate positive net revenues by salvaging beetle-killed timber, the study concluded. In Colorado, there have been efforts to create more markets for beetle-killed wood, but there doesn’t yet seem to be a critical mass of demand.
The study did not examine other factors that might influence land management decisions, such as fire risk reduction, improvement in stand conditions, or jobs. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, economy, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles and wildfires, US Forest Service | Tagged: forests, Mountain pine beetle, salvage logging, United States Forest Service | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 10, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Forest Service replanting key areas, monitoring regeneration
Just a few years after logging projects, forests are making a comeback in areas around Pine Cove campground, near Frisco, Colorado.
A temporary logging road along the Frisco Peninsula.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — With mountain pine beetle populations at their lowest level in 30 years, it’s safe to say that the forest health crisis actually turned out to be a much-needed catharsis for Summit County’s overgrown lodgepole pine forests.
U.S. Forest Service researchers are finding that most of the area hit by the bugs are showing encouraging signs of regrowth. Logged areas are primarily seeing dense lodgepole regeneration, along with some aspens. Non-logged areas are also growing back, and some early data suggests that subalpine fir may replace lodepole pines as the dominant species.
Along with continued logging operations in red zone areas, the U.S. Forest Service has been busy replanting some key areas, notably around campgrounds. Altogether, the agency has planted about a quarter of a million seedlings across the White River National Forest in the last three to four years, according to silviculturist Jan Burke, who has tracked the arc of the beetle infestation. Just this past summer, the Forest Service, with help from volunteer partners, planted about 90,000 trees. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, pine beetles and wildfires, Summit County Colorado, US Forest Service, White River National Forest | Tagged: Colorado, forest recovery, Mountain pine beetle, United States Forest Service, White River National Forest | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 21, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
West Fork complex closes Highway 160, spurs evacuations
The Lime Gulch Fire burning in live trees near Conifer, Colorado. Photo courtesy Jefferson County Sheriffs Office.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The West Fork Complex in the San Juan mountains has quickly grown to become Colorado’s largest wildfire of the season. In just a few days, the two fires near Wolf Creek Pass have spread across about 18,000 acres, burning in rugged backcountry territory choked with beetle-killed spruce trees.
Firefighters have been focusing on trying to protect developments potentially in the path of the fire, including Wolf Creek Ski Area and residential areas around South Fork. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forest fires, forests, pine beetles and wildfires, wildfires | Tagged: Bull Gulch Fire, Colorado, Colorado wildfires, Lime Gulch Fire, West Fork complex | 1 Comment »
Posted on June 19, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Evacuations in effect forLime Gulch Fire
The West Fork Fire complex has grown to more than 600 acres in the rugged San Juan backcountry of southwest Colorado. Photo courtesy InciWeb.org.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — With several new wildfires burning in Colorado and red flag warnings in effect for much of the state, Summit County officials have put a temporary hold on slash burning permits.
“We all have seen the tragic consequences of wildfires yet again in our state, and we want to do everything we can to prevent an out-of-control blaze here in Summit County,” said Lake Dillon Fire Chief Dave Parmley. “This is a worthwhile precaution, especially as we have three teams of firefighters out of the county on the Black Forest fire, as well as two other wildfire leaders assigned to other blazes.”
The Black Forest Fire may be in a mop-up phase, but the Lime Gulch Fire near Conifer and Evergreen is still growing. The Jefferson County fire was initially called the Chair Rock Fire but officials changed the name about about 3:20 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.
The Jefferson County Emergency Blog has been activated to support the Chair Rock Fire, burning in the area of Foxton Road and River Road near Conifer, Colorado.
A level three evacuation (leave now) has been issued for the areas within a three-mile radius of the Foxton Road and River Road intersection. According to the JeffCo emergency blog, 410 phones were called within this evacuation area. Deputies are in the area going door to door to assist with the evacuations. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, forest fires, pine beetles and wildfires, public lands, wildfires | Tagged: Chair Rock Fire, Colorado wildfires, Lime Gulch Fire, Weminuche Wilderness, West Fork complex, Wildfires, Wolf Creek Pass | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 14, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A wildfire burns in Keystone Gulch, near the base of Keystone Ski Area, in June, 2011.
Fewer firefighers, less wildfire fuels treatments and less post-fire rehab
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The federal budget crunch means firefighters will have to do more with less this summer, federal officials said this week. Because of the sequester, the Forest Service will not fill 500 firefighting positions and will make do with 50 less engines on the ground.
“We are facing another dangerous wildfire season. We are prepared; we’re not as funded as we might be about 5 years from now, so teamwork is really critical to what we have to do,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, speaking Monday at a briefing at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise Idaho.
In particular, parts of the West are facing another challenging fire season, with greatest potential threats in the Pacific Coast states and into the interior northwest, including Idaho and southwest Montana, according to the center’s predictive services team. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, pine beetles and wildfires, public lands, US Forest Service, wildfires | Tagged: federal budget sequester, forest fires, National Interagency Fire Center, Tom Vilsack, Wildfires | 3 Comments »