Posted on November 14, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Still lots of dead trees around the Colorado high country.
Forest health task force session wants to answer that question
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — just a week after Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to support more logging, the Summit County Forest Health Task Force will hold a roundtable to discuss barriers to forest health.
The meeting, which includes lunch, is from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Frisco Community Building, 110 Third Avenue South, Frisco (one block south of Main Street). Participants include: Lyle laverty, Cary Green, Matt Sugar, Bruce Ward, Howard Hallman, Brad Piehl and Sandy Briggs. Please RSVP by calling or emailing Howard Hallman at (719) 491-1807 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Udall last week urged Vilsack to support proactive forest management by utilizing the timber industry to reduce fuel loads in wildfire-prone areas and improve community safety throughout the West. Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), John Thune (R-S.D.) signed onto Udall’s letter. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Forest health, forests, pine beetles and wildfires, politics, Summit County Colorado, US Forest Service | Tagged: Colorado, Forest health, logging, Mark Udall, stewardship contracting, Summit Forest Health Task Force | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 12, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Ash-covered ground and burned trees in the High Park fire zone. Photo courtesy InciWeb.
Letter to feds raises numerous questions about High Park, Waldo Canyon fires but doesn’t mention global warming
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Colorado’s two U.S. Senators are asking the U.S. Forest Service for an in-depth study of several major wildfires that destroyed hundreds of homes along the Front Range wildland-urban interface — the red zone, where up to 40 percent of the state’s population has chosen to live in areas where fires are a natural part of the ecosystem.
“The unprecedented nature and pattern of these fires calls for a systematic and scientific analysis to learn how we as a society can do better. Our goal is to make sure that the lessons learned — positive and negative — are captured and acted upon appropriately,” they wrote in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, forest fires, forests, global warming, US Forest Service, wildfires | Tagged: beetle-kill forests, Colorado, forest fires, Forest health, High Park Fire, Mark Udall, Michael Bennet, U.S. Forest Service, Waldo Canyon Fire, Wildfires | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 8, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Climate change outpacing most predictions
Dead lodgepole pine forests dominate many Summit County vistas. Bob Berwyn photo.
by Howard Hallman and Brad Piehl
It doesn’t take a scientist to understand the connection between climate change and forest fires. Last spring was hot and dry, which resulted in a dry forest that easily burns. This should not surprise us. What is surprising is the pace of climate change and the damage it has already caused to our forests and communities.
A vast majority of American scientists now recognize climate change as a threat to our nation’s well-being. Their findings are supported by decades of top-notch research. The climate is changing at the pace of many of the worst-case predictions from five to 10 years ago. Last year there were thousands of new record high temperatures across America. Severe drought conditions devastated millions of acres of crop and grazing land. Acres burned by catastrophic wildfire have increased significantly over the last several decades. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, commentary, Environment, Forest health, global warming, op-ed, wildfires | Tagged: climate change, Forest health, forests, global warming, Wildfires | 12 Comments »
Posted on October 6, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Two meetings next week to focus on forest and wildfire issues
Summit County residents are invited to a forest health powwow with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. Photo by Bob Berwyn.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Grappling with the aftermath of Colorado’s most destructive wildfire season on record, state, federal and local officials will meet Oct. 12 for a half-day forest health summit at the Colorado History Center in Denver.
And in what could be a condensed preview of the Denver powwow, Gov. Hickenlooper will visit Summit County Oct. 10 to participate in a one-hour forest health and wildfire forum at the Summit County Community and Senior Center (10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.).
“Obviously Gov. Hickenlooper is the headliner … it’s an opportunity for Summit County to share with the Governor concerns, successes and opportunities on forest health,” said county commissioner Dan Gibbs, explaining that the session is partly aimed at sharing information about potential options to protect Colorado communities from a repeat of this past summer’s fires. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, global warming, pine beetles and wildfires, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news, wildfires | Tagged: Colorado, Dan Gibbs, forest fires, Forest health, John Hickenlooper, Mark Udall, Wildfires | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 12, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
‘Warmer temperatures linked to human-caused climate change areplaying a role in drying out the region’
The stump of a beetle-killed ponderosa pine looms over the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Photo by Bob Berwyn.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Even just the small amount of global warming measured to-date has pushed climatic growing conditions to extremes, according to a new report from University of Arizona researchers.
“Our concern is that vegetation will experience even more extreme growing conditions as anticipated further warming exacerbates the impacts of future droughts,” said Jeremy Weiss, a senior research with UA’s department of geosciences. “We know the climate in the Southwest is getting warmer, but we wanted to investigate how the higher temperatures might interact with the highly variable precipitation typical of the region.”
The study found that warmer temperatures magnify drought conditions by making turning the atmosphere into a giant moisture-sucking sponge that make trees more susceptible to insects and other pathogens. The biggest impacts are in low to middle elevations, according to the study, scheduled for publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, forests, global warming | Tagged: climate change, drought, Forest health, forests, global warming, Southwest, Southwestern United States, University of Arizona | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 10, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Forests are changing, and those changes will have widespread regional impacts.
Forest die-offs to affect hydrological cycles, ecosystem processes and the services forests provide
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Colorado isn’t the only place that has seen major climate-related impacts to its forest ecosystems. During the past couple of decades, extensive forest death triggered by hot and dry climatic conditions has been documented on every continent except Antarctica and forest mortality due to drought and heat stress is expected to increase.
Most research to-date has been focused on local and regional impacts of forest mortality, but scientists are starting to grapple with the bigger picture of how widespread forest die-offs will play out on the climate change stage. A new analysis of the current literature on this topic by Carnegie’s William and Leander Anderegg was published September 9 in Nature Climate Change.
Along with co-author Jeffrey Kane of Northern Arizona University, the Andereggs examined papers dealing with different aspects of forest die-off events from studies all over the world. They divided their findings into the effects on a forest community of trees and other species; on ecosystem processes as a whole; on services forests provide to humans; and on the climate. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, forests, global warming | Tagged: climate change, drought, Environment, Forest health, forests | 1 Comment »
Posted on August 28, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Learn more about local forest conditions this week with the Summit Forest Health Task Force.
Aug. 29 lunch meeting includes info on local logging and restoration
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Local forests appear to be starting a comeback from a decade-long pine beetle invasion that killed up to 75 percent of mature lodgepole pines in the area, says Howard Hallman, co-director of the Summit Forest Health Task Force, which has been tracking the course of the epidemic and working with stakeholders to spur mitigation and restoration efforts.
The task force is hosting a lunchtime roundtable this week (Aug. 29) to update the community on beetle-kill logging projects in the area, as well as on efforts to monitor the state of local forests in the wake of the insect outbreak. The meeting is at the Mt. Royal Room in the County Commons and includes pizza, salad and drinks. (more…)
Filed under: Summit County Colorado, Forest health, pine beetles and wildfires, Environment, forests, Summit County news, Colorado, pine beetles | Tagged: Summit County Colorado, Forest health, Summit County News, forests, Mountain pine beetle, Lodgepole Pine | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 7, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Forest disturbances help boost diversity.
Natural patterns of disturbance and regrowth can guide land use practices
By Summit Voice
As much as we picture a “perfect forest’ in our mind’s eye, the reality is that forests are dynamic ecosystems, subject to windstorms, avalanches, insect invasions and wildfires. And while the widespread perception is that these so-called disasters are a blight on forests, they are, in fact, crucial drivers of diversity and renewal.
Washington State University scientist Mark Swanson recently studied forest areas hit by major disturbances, including the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption and suggested that land managers can alter practices to mimic disturbances an enhance diversity, creating areas with a wide variety of species, including rare and endangered plants and animals.
“The 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens … created very diverse post-eruption conditions, and has some of the highest plant and animal diversity in the western Cascades range,” said Swanson, an assistant professor of landscape ecology and silviculture in Washington State University’s School of the Environment. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: biodiversity, forest ecosystems, Forest health | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 22, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Researchers continue to pinpoint the fire risk associated with beetle-killed trees.
New study helps quantify ignition time of beetle-killed trees
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Chemical changes in pine attacked by bark beetles start as soon as two weeks after the bugs start to burrow under the bark and make the trees more prone to ignition.
Overall, beetle-killed trees in the early and mid-stages of infestation may pose a greater risk of fast-spreading crown fires, though other factors are also important, including the structure of the tree, the presence or absence of ground and ladder fuels and terrain and weather. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, forest fires, forests, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: beetle kill, forest fires, Forest health, forests, Lodgepole Pine, pine beetles, Wildfires | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 21, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
As the politicians argue, forests die and regrow.
Hearing on forest treatment legislation turns into theater of the absurd
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Congress took another half-hearted swing at the so-called forest health crisis this week, with a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on a trio of forest managment bills.
At their most extreme, the measures would eliminate consideration of impacts to endangered species and require the Forest Service to implement proposals under a strict timeline — even if the required environmental reviews aren’t complete.
While each of the three bills include some provisions that could help public land managers address beetle-killed forests and potentially facilitate restoration work, the hearing itself quickly degenerated into classic partisan political theater, with anti-environmental Republicans blaming the Forest Service for the pine beetle epidemic, and liberal Democrats drawing analogies between baseball players on steroids and climate change.
You can watch an archived video of the hearing at the committee website. (more…)
Filed under: BLM, Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, global warming, pine beetles and wildfires, public lands, US Forest Service | Tagged: Bureau of Land management, Congress, Forest health, House Natural Resources Committee, U.S. Forest Service | 4 Comments »