Posted on March 17, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
State report details status of insect activities
Spruce beetles are widely active across the mountains of southern Colorado.
FRISCO — Windstorms, mild winters and drought are the key factors in the continued spread of spruce beetles, which have become the dominant change agent in Colorado forests the past few years.
According to the latest annual forest health report compiled by state forest experts, spruce beetles were active across 398,000 acres in 2013, affected more than triple the amount of acreage than mountain pine beetles. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, Summit County news | Tagged: Colorado, environments, forests, pine beetles, spruce beetles | Leave a 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 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 November 11, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Burned areas a critical piece of overall forest health
Post-fire landscapes are important in the big picture of forest health. bberwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — With political momentum growing in support of more logging, a group of leading scientists is trying to counterbalance the forest crisis mythology that has developed in the past few years. That mythology has no basis in science and is promulgated to support a political agenda.
In an open letter to the U.S. Congress, the scientists asked Congress show restraint in speeding up logging in the wake of this year’s wildfires, most notably the Rim fire in the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park.
It’s important to recognize that the scientists are not saying that there should neve be any logging, anywhere. Rather, the decisions need to be made in a measured way, considering all the environmental implications and the role that burned areas have in the bigger picture of long-term forest health. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests | Tagged: Environment, Forest health, forests, Rim Fire, salvage logging, Wildfires | 1 Comment »
Posted on November 4, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Fire and water crucial to big-tree ecosystem
Giant sequoias in Yosemite National Park.
FRISCO — With an eye toward an uncertain climate future, national park resource managers are finalizing a restoration plan for the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in Yosemite National Park.
The stand of about 500 trees was included in the Yosemite Grant that was signed into law on June 30, 1864. This marked the first time the federal government set aside land for protection and is considered to be the genesis of the national park idea. The Mariposa Grove are among the oldest, rarest, and largest living organisms in the world. The trees can live longer than 3,000 years.
About a third of the sequoias in California were cut between the the 1860s and 1950s. Studies suggest that the distribution of the trees is driven by climate, constrained by cold temperatures at upper elevations and limited by the availability of water at low elevations.
In the restoration plan, scientists say restoring natural hydrological and fire cycles is the key to success, since sequoia germination, establishment and persistence are largely driven by fire and hydrology. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, Forest health, forests, national parks, public lands | Tagged: Mariposa Grove, sequoia restoration, Sequoiadendron giganteum, Yosemite National Park | Leave a comment »