Posted on February 6, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Spruce beetle infestation grows in southwestern mountains
Aerial surveys show that spruce beetles are spreading in SW Colorado, while pine beetles slow their attack in the northern and central part of the state.
The spread of mountain pine beetles slowed to levels last seen in 2003.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Mountain pine beetle activity in Colorado dropped dramatically in 2012, to the lowest level in 10 years, according to state and federal officials who this week released the the results of their latest aerial surveys.
Mountain pine beetles are still spreading across parts of the mountains between Estes Park and Leadville, but new activity was reported on just 31,000 acres, down from 141,000 acres in 2011. Since the outbreak started in 1996, beetles killed trees across more than 3.4 million acres, but it’s important to remember that not every single tree died.
In the aftermath of the infestation, foresters are finding that pockets of younger trees survived the wave of beetles, even in the hardest-hit areas. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles | Tagged: Colorado, forest heath, forests, Mountain pine beetle, pine beetles, spruce beetles, U.S. Forest Service | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 2, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Whitebark pines are in imminent danger of extinction, and global warming is one of the most significant threats to the species. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.
Researchers see threat to whitebark pines
By Summit Voice
FRISCO —Bark beetles have already killed millions of acres of mid-elevation forests across the West, and warming temperatures are enabling the tree-killing bugs to invade higher elevations, where they are attacking trees that haven’t evolved with strong defenses to repel them.
Global warming is essentially giving the insects a huge advantage, as the trees, with their long lifespans, have no chance to develop biological resistance, according to researchers from the the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who report a rising threat to the whitebark pine forests of the northern Rocky Mountains. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, global warming, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: bark beetles, climate change, forests, global warming, Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Lodgepole Pine, Mountain pine beetle, Northern Rocky Mountains, University of Wisconsin–Madison, whitebark pines | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 6, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Beetle-killed lodgepole pines dominate the landscape in many parts of Summit County.
2002 drought played key role in accelerating insect invasion
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Drought conditions in the early 2000s helped pine beetle populations surge to unprecedented levels, according to a new University of Colorado study that charts the evolution of the current pine beetle epidemic in the southern Rocky Mountains.
But even when the drought eased, the outbreak continued to gain ground, spreading into wetter and higher elevations and into less susceptible tree stands — those with smaller diameter lodgepoles sharing space with other tree species, according to CU-Boulder doctoral student Teresa Chapman.
“In recent years some researchers have thought the pine beetle outbreak in the southern Rocky Mountains might have started in one place and spread from there,” said Chapman. “What we found was that the mountain pine beetle outbreak originated in many locations. The idea that the outbreak spread from multiple places, then coalesced and continued spreading, really highlights the importance of the broad-scale drivers of the pine beetle epidemic like climate and drought.” (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, global warming, pine beetles | Tagged: Colorado, drought, forests, lodgepole pines, Mountain pine beetle, University of Colorado Boulder | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 16, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Pine beetles running out of food, spruce beetle infestation growing
Mountain pine beetle mortality is on the decline across the western U.S.
Spruce and fir mortality is on the increase in Colorado.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Tree mortality from insects and diseases has dropped dramatically in the past few years, mainly because mountain pine beetles are running out of food, according to a new report from the U.S. Forest Service.
But the next significant cycle of insect infestation has already reached epidemic proportions in the south-central Rockies, where spruce beetles are devastating stands of mature spruce trees. The spruce beetle outbreak has been especially intense in the San Juans, where the bugs have killed almost every single mature tree from the creek bottoms all the way up to high-elevation krummholz.
It will be interesting to see if the numbers go back up after this summer’s drought weakened trees across the region.
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles, US Forest Service | Tagged: 2011 forest mortality, drought, Environment, forests, Mountain pine beetle, pine beetles, spruce beetles, United States Forest Service | 4 Comments »
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: Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles, pine beetles and wildfires, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news | Tagged: Forest health, forests, Lodgepole Pine, Mountain pine beetle, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 15, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Pine beetles and wind storms have created dangerous conditions around trails near Nederland
Logging to close popular Forest Service recreation area most of the summer.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Forest Service crews will tackle yet another patch of beetle-killed forest sometime in early June, logging about 330 acres in the popular West Magnolia recreation area near Nederland.
The area will be closed for most of the summer, as the agency tries to mitigate safety concerns associated with intense fire potential, and hazard trees weakened by mountain pine beetles, as well as recent wind events. (more…)
Filed under: biking, climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, hiking, pine beetles and wildfires, public lands, recreation | Tagged: Arapaho Roosevelt national forest, Forest health, logging, Mountain pine beetle, United States Forest Service, West Magnolia recreation area | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 25, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Post-beetle kill in Summit County, Colorado.
3,000 trees arrive, ready to be planted
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — After clearing thousands of beetle-killed trees from Summit County campgrounds and trails the past few years, the U.S. Forest Service is going into restoration mode. While there’s still more hazard tree removal to be done, rangers say they are ready to plant about 3,000 trees, including lodgepole, ponderosa and even some spruce trees.
The trees were just delivered on a couple of flatbed trucks, according to Sarah Pearson, a silviculturalist with the White River River National Forest. An inmate forestry crew will start planting the trees May 2 around the Peak One campground, as well as Prospector Point and Lowry campgrounds, Pearson said. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, Colorado, Dillon Ranger District, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles, pine beetles and wildfires, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news, US Forest Service, White River National Forest | Tagged: Forest health, Mountain pine beetle, reforestation, United States Forest Service, White River National Forest | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 2, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Bugs killed up to 80 percent of mature trees in heavily hit areas; foresters emphasize removal of dangerous trees and proactive management to ameliorate future outbreaks
Most new pine beetle activity in 2011 was in Larimer and Boulder counties.
SUMMIT COUNTY —Pine beetle activity for the most part has died back down to background levels, with a few hotspots in Tenmile Canyon and in the high-elevation fringes of the lodgepole zone, according to results from the latest aerial surveys of Colorado forests.
The survey confirms that the bark beetle epidemic has slowed dramatically west of the Continental Divide. Forest and insect researchers have attributed the decline to several factors, including generally wetter conditions the past few years that have enabled some trees to repel the bugs. And, in some area, the beetles have already killed most suitable host trees, leaving nowhere else to reproduce. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles, pine beetles and wildfires, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news, US Forest Service | Tagged: bark beetle aerial survey, bark beetles mountain pine beetles, Black Hills, Colorado, Environment, Forest health, Mountain pine beetle, Summit County News, US Forest Service, White River National Forest | 2 Comments »
Posted on November 30, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
Only a few pockets of high activity remain
Large swaths of Summit County forests survived the latest pine beetle epidemic. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.
SUMMIT COUNTY — The mountain pine beetle epidemic that spread through Colorado’s north-central mountains and other parts of the West is subsiding in Summit and Eagle counties, according to the Colorado State Forest Service.
A Colorado State Forest Service map shows the distribution of lodgepole pines in Colorado.
In the end, the bugs killed about 75 percent of the mature, susceptible lodgepole pine trees in the area, according to Colorado state forester Paul Cada. In neighboring Grand County, where lodgepole forests were even more prevalent than in Summit County, between 95 to 98 percent of the trees were killed by the beetles, Cada said.
He estimated that about 60 percent of Summit County’s forest cover consisted of lodgepole pine before the beetle outbreak, with 40 percent a mix of spruce and fir (along with a sprinkling of aspen and tiny pockets of trees like Douglas fir, which grow on rocky outcrops around Swan Mountain). (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, pine beetles, pine beetles and wildfires, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news | Tagged: bark beetles, Environment, Forest health, Lodgepole Pine, Mountain pine beetle, pine beetles, Summit County News | 4 Comments »
Posted on October 22, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
Montana wildfire observations will increase understanding of fire behavior in changing Western forests
The Saddle Complex fire burned so intensely that it created its own weather, which further fueled the fire. PHOTO COURTESY MAGGIE MILLIGAN.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Fire experts said they were surprised by the intensity of a pair of fires that burned in Montana this summer during less-than-extreme fire weather. The fire moved through areas of beetle-killed lodgepole faster than some previous fire modeling suggested.
The rapid spread of the two fires was probably the result of a perfect mix of fuels, including recent beetle-killed lodgepole pine with flammable red needles, stands of older beetle-kill in the gray stage. Live trees and an a full-grown understory that provided ladder fuels.
The observations could help experts gain a better understanding of how fires will behave in beetle-killed forests. Some previous fire observations, in Yellowstone, for example, suggested that pure stands of dead gray-stage lodgepoles could actually slow the spread of a blaze, and some fire modeling has also suggested that the gray trees are not as susceptible to fire. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, forest fires, forests, US Forest Service | Tagged: beetle kill, Idaho, Lodgepole Pine, Montana, Mountain pine beetle, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Saddle Complex Fire, Salt Fire, United States Forest Service, Wildfires, William Jolly | Leave a Comment »