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Old 08-15-2006, 09:15 AM
 
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I'm planning to move to Granby this Winter. Does anyone know if all of the pines will be dead by next Summer or how long it will take? I've heard Grand Lake is being decimated.
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Old 08-17-2006, 10:19 AM
 
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Unhappy Beetle Kill

I was in Granby and Grand Lake last week (8/11) and it was awful. Entire mountainsides are brown. If they get a fire, entire mountains will be toast. The forest service has NOTHING. The National Park has done some spraying and thinning of dead trees. One of the local TV stations in Denver has done a good story on the problem, but they haven't posted the story on their web site yet.
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Old 01-14-2008, 11:25 AM
 
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Very interesting article in the Denver Post and the Rocky today about trees being killed by the Pine Beetle. Predictions are that in 5 years, all the trees in the high country will have been killed - won't that be ugly.

The Denver Post - Report: Beetles on track to kill lodgepole forests in 3-5 years
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Old 01-14-2008, 12:06 PM
 
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Truth is, the best thing to regenerate the lodgepole forests is if they just burned. That's how lodgepoles reseed--when fire heats the trees' cones enough, they open and release their seed. The problem, of course, is we "way-smart" humans have built all kinds of expensive **** in those forests that we don't want burned up. Well, sooner of later, those lodgepole forests will burn, and likely roast anything that we have built in them. Score: Mother Nature - 1; Humans - 0. She always bats last.
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Old 01-17-2008, 08:10 AM
 
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Wondering where they took the picture in the article from because when we were over there last summer I don't recall seeing any green trees. It was solid dead ones. Horrible to see. Really shocking.
Here's a story that was in our local Longmont paper the other day:
The Longmont Times-Call (http://www.timescall.com/News_Story.asp?id=5850 - broken link)
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Old 01-17-2008, 08:35 AM
 
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People shouldn't kid themselves about the problem being limited to the lodgepoles, either. Colorado's overmature, overcrowded ponderosa forests are being hammered, too. The Hayman and Missionary Ridge fires were just a preview of coming attractions in the ponderosa forests. What people don't "get" is that when one of these "mega-fires" gets going in a sea of dead and dying timber, the only thing that can be done is to get out of the way. It's gonna do what it's gonna do. Budgetarily, there is very little that the Forest Service can do to "treat" infected forests as a prevention measure. The most effective treatment is logging out the diseased trees, but there is huge (and often justified) opposition to that, due to road-building and other effects of such logging. Many of the forests are in such bad shape that prescribed burning runs the real risk of igniting an uncontrollable fire. We have reached the point that Mother Nature is just going to have to "fix" a century-plus of human fire suppression, and beetles and fire are going to be her tool of choice.

Last edited by jazzlover; 01-17-2008 at 08:47 AM..
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Old 01-17-2008, 10:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkcoop View Post
Wondering where they took the picture in the article from because when we were over there last summer I don't recall seeing any green trees. It was solid dead ones. Horrible to see. Really shocking.
Here's a story that was in our local Longmont paper the other day:
The Longmont Times-Call (http://www.timescall.com/News_Story.asp?id=5850 - broken link)
from the above referenced article: "About 8 percent of forest landscape in Colorado are lodgepoles, said Ingrid Aguayo, forest entimologist with the Colorado State Forest Service. Aguayo said the epidemic doesnít mean itís the end for lodgepoles, but rather itís part of the regeneration process. ďA lot of people think this is the end of the forest, but as an entimologist, I see it as the beginning,Ē she said, pointing out seedlings about five inches tall are already sprouting in parts where the beetles have run their course (emphasis added). ďItís not going to be a moon landscape like a lot of people think,Ē she said."

So what this forest expert is saying is that you don't necessarily need a fire in massive kill areas for forest regeneration.

I was in and around Buena Vista last summer and the infestation didn't really look that bad in Chaffee county. I know that some of the more upscale housing developments there (like Game Trail and Eagles Roost, which border NF lands) began a beetle treatment plan to protect their area. The trees looked just fine.
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Old 01-17-2008, 10:59 AM
 
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In most areas of Colorado, lodgepoles are not a "climax" forest. They are "pioneers" that colonize a disturbed area. Many Colorado lodgepole forests are former spruce-fir forests that were logged off in the 1870's and 1880's (as are a lot of Colorado's current aspen forests). In those particular forests, spruce and fir will eventually recolonize and choke the lodgepole out over a few centuries. That is, unless a beetle infestation and/or fire burn the lodgepoles out. Then the whole process starts over again. Some lodgepole forests actually are a climax forest: the lodgepole grow, get overcrowded, get diseased, burn, and reseed--starting the cycle again. A lot of the lodgepole forests in Colorado that are of this type are the ones that are the "sickest" right now. Lodgepoles have serrotenous cones (that is, very tightly closed pitchy cones). For them to release their seed, the cone temperature must reach something like 160 degrees. So, it is fire that makes a lodegpole a self-reseeding tree. The closely spaced, "doghair" nature of a mature lodgepole forest also makes it prone to fire crawling up the "fuel ladder" of the tree and allowing the fire to "crown out" into a large fire--burning up all the trees, but releasing those seeds.

Conversely, a healthy ponderosa forest with wider spaced trees is less likely to have a crown fire. Small fires that burn in them tend to stay on the ground, burning up build-ups of ground fuels. A mature ponderosa's bark is also fire-resistant, so a normal fire in a healthy ponderosa forest allows the larger trees to survive and grow--and the fire does not tend to climb into the crown of the forest. A century-plus of fire prevention in these forests, though, has allowed to many small trees to crowd together, allowed too much ground fuel to build up, and weakened the larger trees. That makes the whole unhealthy forest more susceptible to pine beetles, and also makes huge "crown" fires more likely. These not only destroy ALL of the trees; they may burn hot enough to sterilize the soil. Some of Colorado's overgrown ponderosa forests may take many centuries to return when they burn this time because of soil sterilization. It is in the ponderosa forests where logging, treatment, and prescribed burns should be happening to prevent those kinds of devastating crown fires--rather than fussing over the lodgepole forests. The lodgepole forests are goners, anyway, and big fires in them are their way of naturally regenerating. To the people that built their trophy house in a tinder box that nature designed to burn, well, it's kind of like Yosemite Sam lighting a match in a shed full of dynamite and gasoline--**** happens.

By the way, regarding multitrak's post about forests around Buena Vista. Those lodgepole forests have not been as heavily infected--yet. The beetle is there, though, and the infestations have increased significantly in the last year or so (based on my periodic observations). It's a matter of time. Another factor is geography. If one notices, US Highway 50 coincidentally pretty well marks the boundary of the southernmost range of large pure lodgepole forests. North of Hwy. 50, those forests are much more common, south of it, they become less prevalent and extensive. This is a function of both precipitation and temperature patterns. Aspen is the more prevalent fire or logging "pioneer" tree in the southern half of Colorado (again, many of Colorado's beautiful aspen forests are there because the spruce and fir were logged off in the 1870-1890's--historical photographs make this easy to confirm). Unfortunately, aspen are having their issues now, too.

There is also a pretty large infestation of beetles killing Douglas Firs, and spruce budworm is taking a toll in the spruces, but that is another story.
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Old 01-17-2008, 01:03 PM
 
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it's possible to live in the forest and be proactive about saving your home when a wildfire passes through...just a quick sampling of some common sense solutions to a vexing problem in the West.

Fireproofing Homes Dramatically Reduces the Spread of Forest Fires, Scientists Report / UCLA Newsroom

The fire-proof house (http://www.infolink.com.au/articles/41/0C012841.aspx - broken link)

Fireproof Your Forest Home

Ozark-St. Francis National Forests - USDA Forest Service (http://www.fs.fed.us/oonf/ozark/fire/firewise.html - broken link)
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Old 01-17-2008, 01:13 PM
 
8,317 posts, read 25,103,855 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by multitrak View Post
it's possible to live in the forest and be proactive about saving your home when a wildfire passes through...just a quick sampling of some common sense solutions to a vexing problem in the West.

Fireproofing Homes Dramatically Reduces the Spread of Forest Fires, Scientists Report / UCLA Newsroom

The fire-proof house (http://www.infolink.com.au/articles/41/0C012841.aspx - broken link)

Fireproof Your Forest Home

Ozark-St. Francis National Forests - USDA Forest Service (http://www.fs.fed.us/oonf/ozark/fire/firewise.html - broken link)
Very true. It is possible to greatly enhance the chances of a house surviving a fire, though in a "mega-fire" even the best prepared home may not survive. It also does beg the greater question if one wishes to live in a burned out forest for the several decades to several centuries needed for the forest to regrow. For most mountain residents these days, that would probably be a "no." To paraphrase, today's forest fires ain't your father's forest fires. They are much bigger, unruly, and dangerous--they have A LOT of fuel to work with.

By the way, I notice only one of the links posted has a Colorado connection. While much of the advice is applicable, the fire situation in Colorado's increasingly beetle-killed forests is somewhat unique to the Rocky Mountain Region.
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