Posted on March 24, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
New CU-Boulder study has implications for forest managers and Red Zone communities
*More Summit Voice stories on beetle-kill and forests here.
FRISCO — Communities and resource managers looking to address the threat of wildfires should focus less on tree-killing beetles and more on the underlying forces driving the trend toward larger fires.
Warmer temperatures and increased drought are the key factors, said Colorado-based researchers who took a close look at patterns of beetle-kill and wildfires in recent years.
Their study found that western forests killed by mountain pine beetles are no more at risk to burn than healthy forests. Those findings fly in the face of both public perception and policy, the scientists acknowledged.
“What we are seeing in this study is that at broad scales, fire does not necessarily follow mountain pine beetles,” said CU-Boulder Research Scientist Tania Schoennagel, of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. “It’s well known, however, that fire does follow drought.” Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, climate change, Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, global warming, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: beetle kill, climate change, drought, Forest health, forests, global warming, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 7, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Aerial surveys help track forest changes over time
Nearly every mature spruce has been killed by spruce beetle in this drainage on the Rio Grande National Forest.Photo: Brian Howell.
Spruce beetles are spreading quickly in southwestern Colorado. Graph courtesy USFS.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — There’s good news and bad news from Colorado’s forests. Mountain pine beetle activity has faded to the lowest level since 1996, but spruce beetles continue to spread in the San Juans and in northwestern Colorado.
The spruce beetle outbreak was detected on 485,000 acres in 2014, compared to 398,000 acres across the state in 2013, according to the U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado State Forest Service. The annual aerial survey by the two agencies shows that the spruce beetle outbreak expanded to 253,000 new acres. Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles, pine beetles and wildfires, US Forest Service | Tagged: aerial forest survey, Colorado, Forest health, forests, mountain pine beetles, spruce beetles | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 2, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Forest treatments that focus on removing smaller trees may not be the best tool for western dry forests, according to new research by University of Wyoming scientists.
Study shows many treatments in western dry forests are misguided
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Mid-elevation forests in the western U.S. have survived centuries of drought, wildfires and insect onslaughts by hedging their bets with a diversity of tree sizes, Wyoming researchers said after studying forest plots from the Pacific Northwest down to Arizona and New Mexico.
The research showed that the biggest threat to those forests is from insects and not wildfires. Historically abundant small trees enable those forests to rebound after tree-killing bugs move through. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: Environment, Forest health, forests, West | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 18, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Forest Service scientists study aftermath of Rim Fire to assess effectiveness of forest health treatments
A NASA Earth Observatory image shows smoke plumes from the Rim Fire in August, 2013. NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS Rapid Response.
FRISCO — A detailed new study of fire behavior of the 2013 Rim Fire in Yosemite provides a nuanced view of the effectiveness of forest health treatments.
The Rim Fire was the largest recorded fire in the Sierra Nevada region, and U.S. Forest Service researchers said in their study that the fire burned with moderate to high intensity on days the Rim Fire was dominated by a large pyro-convective plume, a powerful column of smoke, gases, ash, and other debris — regardless of the number of prior fires, topography, or forest conditions. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, US Forest Service | Tagged: extreme weather, Forest health, Rim Fire, U.S. Forest Service, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 15, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Can mushrooms help save whitebark pines? Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.
Scientists report success in treating seedlings with mushroom spores
FRISCO — High-elevation whitebark pines are under the gun in the northern Rockies. White pine blister rust, an invasive fungus, and pine beetles have combined to drive the species toward extinction.
But scientists trying to recover the species say that a humble mushroom could help their efforts. A three-year experiment shows a 10 to 15 percent increase in the survival rate of whitebark pine seedlings when Siberian slippery jack spores are injected into the soil around them. The injection takes place in nurseries before the seedlings are transplanted in the mountains. Continue reading
Filed under: endangered species, Environment, Forest health, forests, Uncategorized | Tagged: Environment, Forest health, forests, fungi, pine beetles, whitebark pines | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 3, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Findings challenge carbon-balance assumptions of woody biomass energy boosters
A forest health logging site on Swan Mountain near Dillon, Colorado. bberwyn photo.
FRISCO — Logging forests may have a more significant impact on carbon storage in soils than previously believed, Dartmouth College researchers found after taking a close look at at how timber harvesting affects mineral soil carbon over 100 years.
The study found that, while logging doesn’t immediately release carbon stored in a forest’s mineral soils into the atmosphere, it triggers a gradual release that may contribute to climate change over decades. Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, climate and weather, Environment, Forest health, forests, global warming, US Forest Service | Tagged: carbon cycle, Environment, Forest health, forests, global warming, logging, soil carbon storage | 2 Comments »
Posted on November 18, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
What now, forests?
Panel features White River NF chief Scott Fitzwilliams and Colorado State Forest Service director Mike Lester
FRISCO — A lot of seedlings have sprouted since Summit County experienced the biggest pine beetle outbreak that anyone can remember, and the debate over the future of Colorado’s forests is very much alive — how much of the forest can we manage, and how can we make sure that will help forests in the long run?
With the goal of creating more resilient and diverse forests, one aspect of the discussion centers on differences between active and passive management. This week, the Summit County Forest Health Task Force will host a panel discussion on forest management (Nov. 20, 6-8 p.m. at the Summit County Community & Senior Center, County Commons). Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, Summit County Colorado, US Forest Service, White River National Forest | Tagged: active forest management, Colorado, Forest health, Forest Service, White River National Forest | Leave a comment »