Summit County: Finding value in beetle-killed forests

Pine beetles have killed lodgepole pines up to tree line on Buffalo Mountain.

Local task force to brainstorm on economically sustainable uses

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Switching back to an early morning meeting time, the Summit Forest Health Task Force will try to answer some of the most vexing questions about finding economically viable uses for the massive quantities of beetle-killed lodgepole pines that are piling up and starting to rot.

The group, focused on education and collaboration, is meeting April 14 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Frisco Community Center on Third Ave.

During the discussion, panelists will try to determine which markets for salvaged lodgepole pine are viable and sustainable, and what impacts new technologies and improved transportation options might have on Colorado’s struggling timber industry.

At a  task force meeting last year, several local builders said the beetle-killed wood is too expensive.

“if we can mainstream the product, and it’s priced competitively we should find a home for it,” said Bighorn Material’s Don Sather, speaking last June during a discussion at a Summit Forest Health Task Force meeting in Frisco.

One local contractor said he was bidding on several large construction projects at Copper Mountain. He’d like to use beetle-killed wood from Colorado, but he said it’s hard to find. As he sourced materials for the job, he found that most of the beetle-killed timber that’s available at competitive prices is coming from Wyoming and Montana.

Frisco’s Dan McCrerey expressed similar frustrations at the meeting last June.

“Why do I see all this deadfall that the Forest Service has cut and paid for? why I can’t I get it? I’d like to give it a shot,” said McCrerey, who developed the Wellington Neighborhood near Breckenridge and is now working on the Peak One affordable housing project in Frisco.

Some Colorado beetle-killed wood has been used to build housing in Haiti. The wood was milled into two-by-fours and four-by-fours in Montrose, trucked to Houston and then shipped to Haiti. The shelters are simple rectangular structures with corrugated roofs and plastic siding.

Several uses for beetle-killed wood have already emerged, including fuel for heating in the form of wood pellets manufactured in Kremmling.

Other discussions have centered around the potential for biomass energy on a larger scale to heat municipal or community buildings. Click here to read one of the latest Summit Voice biomass stories.

As well, a few companies have had some success in converting the wood to consumer products, including furniture, siding, flooring and paneling. Click here to read about New Earth Pellets Depot.

Kindly advise Howard Hallman at or 719-491-1807 if you are planning to attend.
Related blog commentary available at: Bark Beetles « A New Century of Forest Planning.

2 thoughts on “Summit County: Finding value in beetle-killed forests

  1. We’re back on the ‘competitive’ and ‘too expensive’ subject again?

    Competitive with what? Government subsidized Canadian lumber? I’d like to see any business go head to head with a competitor that can provide a similar product or service for 50% or less of the cost of producing that good or service…

    Too expensive? Compared with what? Right now Canadian blue stain is the cheapest wood on the market – about 1/2 the commodity price of regular White Pine….

    You want our local mills to compete with that? Why? Can any company stay in business selling for less than the cost of production?

    And why should the most environmentally friendly wood product available be the cheapest? The percentage of ‘green’ products tha

    1. OOPS! Somehow hit the Post button…

      The percentage of ‘green’ products that cost less than their counterparts is tiny – why should beetle kill, a wood that cost more to process than living trees, price out in the market for less than every other wood product?

      Maybe I have been missing something, so if anyone can help me with these questions, and actually convince me that their answers make sense, then I should probably just shut the doors and tell our thousands of customers that we were wrong to provide them with a beautiful, eco-friendly, and unique product that costs about the same as standard White Pine products…

      And for those that say its hard to find, well, they aren’t looking very hard cuz I just googled ‘beetle kill wood’ and our site and two others came up on the first page.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s