Posted on June 13, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
From flood to flames: Western Colorado under Red Flag warning; wildfire danger highest in far west and Southwest
Wildfire potential for July 2014 courtesy NIFC.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — It doesn’t take long to go from floods to fire in Colorado. Even with mountain streams still running high with runoff, weather experts say the fire danger is on the rise as June turns warm and windy. About a third of the state (mostly western Colorado) is under a Red Flag warning going into the weekend, with the National Weather Service warning that warm temps, low humidity and gusty winds will combine to raise the risk of wildfires.
Overall, the fire season outlook for Colorado is not as critical as the past few years, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, which is emphasizing the current fire danger in the far west and the Southwest, including big parts of Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forest fires, forests | Tagged: Colorado, fire season outlook, forests, western wildfires, wildfire response, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 10, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Some forests in the U.S. are greening up earlier than ever in a warming world. bberwyn photo.
Detailed Harvard research tracks changes in eastern forests
FRISCO — Forests in the eastern U.S. are greening up earlier than ever and staying green longer at the end of the growing season, Harvard scientists conclude in a new study.
Thanks to the extended growing season, the trees are storing more carbon dioxide, but there’s no guarantee that beneficial side effect will persist into the future, the researchers said, explaining that changing precipitation patterns could disrupt forests in other ways. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, forests | Tagged: climate change, Environment, forests, global warming, growing season | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 26, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Beetle-killed trees near Frisco, Colorado.
State Forest Service warns against transporting firewood
FRISCO — It may be a little like the Dutch boy putting his finger in the leaky dike, but Colorado Forest Service officials are warning that transporting firewood from place to place may increase the spread of invasive tree-killing bugs.
Moving firewood even short distances increases the risk to Colorado’s native forests and urban trees. With the 2013 detection of the highly destructive emerald ash borer in the City of Boulder, and ongoing bark beetle epidemics in the state’s mountain forests, the Colorado State Forest Service wants to be sure people are aware of the risks associated with moving firewood. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: Colorado, emerald ash borer, firewood, forests, insects, trees | 1 Comment »
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 March 13, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Ecosystem breakdown more complex than just invasive species
Colorado mule deer. bberwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Valiant weed warriors, who have made it their mission to try and eradicate non-native plants, may want to think about the bigger ecological picture as they plan their weekend weed pulls.
A new study led by the University of Pittsburgh’s Susan Kalisz suggests that, in some cases, invasive plants overwhelm native ecosystems because of an overpopulation of deer. The density of deer in the United States is about four to 10 times what it was prior to European settlement of North America. That density, Kalisz posits, is the main reason garlic mustard is crowding out native plants, such as trillium, which are preferred food for wild deer. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, invasive species | Tagged: biodiversity, Environment, forests, invasive species | 1 Comment »
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 23, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
This near-total clearcut near Frisco, Colorado, may provide a higher-value ecosystem service than a slow-growing forest. bberwyn photo.
Higher albedo of snow-covered ground a factor in climate mitigation calculations
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Snow farming is nothing new for ski area operators, who have long been cultivating the white stuff to help keep their slopes covered. Now, a recent study by researchers at Darthmouth College suggests that snow farming could also make sense on a larger scale, in the context of climate-change mitigation.
In a novel look at forests and snow, their report says that replacing forests with snow-covered meadows may provide greater climatic and economic benefits than if slow-growing trees are left standing in snowy high latitudes. In those areas, persistent snow cover reflects heat back into space, partially offsetting the effect of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming, seasons, snow | Tagged: Clearcutting, Climate change mitigation, earth's albedo, forests, global warming | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 21, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Scruffy middle-aged lodgepole pines help frame this early morning shot of the Gore Range.
FRISCO — Even scruffy little lodgepole pines take on a whole new aura with a blanket of new snow, and Colorado’s tall spruce and firs can look downright majestic in the early morning glow of a post-storm sunset. For this set, I looked through the archives for the past couple of weeks, choosing images that emphasize the transcendent impact of freshly fallen snow on high country forests. For more Summit County and Colorado landscapes, visit our online Fine Art America gallery. Continue reading
Filed under: arts and film, Colorado, Morning photo, photography, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: Colorado, forests, snow, Summit County photography | 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 »