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Old 07-08-2007, 01:22 PM
 
183 posts, read 930,674 times
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I spent time in Denver for several years and enjoyed my stay there. Last time I was out there, I noticed on the drive from Denver to the mountains that the trees were dying off. Did some research and found that there is a mountain borer or beetle that is doing the damage.

I know you all had good moisture last winter... did that seem to help the trees, or are you still seeing the problem.

Sad to see but hopefully some smart person figures out a cure soon.
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Old 07-08-2007, 01:48 PM
 
Location: Colorado, Denver Metro Area
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As far as I know the problem was only with the Aspens trees. No bad(or good for that matter) reports have been made since about a year ago.
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Old 07-08-2007, 06:52 PM
 
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Colorado has a MAJOR problem with mountain pine beetle. It was hoped that this past winter was cold enough to kill some of the overwintering beetles, but--frankly--I doubt that it was. Colorado (and most of the Rocky Mountain West) has a serious problem with "sick" forests. A century plus of fire suppression has made the forests overcrowded--that makes a prime environment for the pine beetle. Pine beetle affects Douglas Firs, Ponderosa Pine, and Lodgepole Pine especially severely--all of those species are common in Colorado forests. There is also a significant infestation of spruce budworm, which--you guessed it--attacks spruce trees. So, it's not a good situation. Several years of warmer than normal winters (global warming?) have also changed the mountain pine beetles maturation cycle from two years to one--that scares the hell out of foresters that I know. Of course, beetle-infected forests are prime for mega-fires--a question not of "if," but "when."

Oh yeah, there is also a "mysterious" die-off of mature aspen that is occurring that foresters are still trying to figure out.

Such is nature. Some of the lush forests I knew as a kid will never look that way again in my lifetime. There is no real "man-made" cure. There's about two things that will kill off beetles. Very cold temperatures for an extended period in winter--or lack of overcrowded and overstressed trees to infect. Fires usually thin out overcrowded timber--but, of course, we can't have those now because somebody's trophy house might burn up.
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Old 07-08-2007, 06:57 PM
 
Location: Florida
540 posts, read 1,105,031 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
Colorado has a MAJOR problem with mountain pine beetle. It was hoped that this past winter was cold enough to kill some of the overwintering beetles, but--frankly--I doubt that it was. Colorado (and most of the Rocky Mountain West) has a serious problem with "sick" forests. A century plus of fire suppression has made the forests overcrowded--that makes a prime environment for the pine beetle. Pine beetle affects Douglas Firs, Ponderosa Pine, and Lodgepole Pine especially severely--all of those species are common in Colorado forests. There is also a significant infestation of spruce budworm, which--you guessed it--attacks spruce trees. So, it's not a good situation. Several years of warmer than normal winters (global warming?) have also changed the mountain pine beetles maturation cycle from two years to one--that scares the hell out of foresters that I know. Of course, beetle-infected forests are prime for mega-fires--a question not of "if," but "when."

Oh yeah, there is also a "mysterious" die-off of mature aspen that is occurring that foresters are still trying to figure out.

Such is nature. Some of the lush forests I knew as a kid will never look that way again in my lifetime. There is no real "man-made" cure. There's about two things that will kill off beetles. Very cold temperatures for an extended period in winter--or lack of overcrowded and overstressed trees to infect. Fires usually thin out overcrowded timber--but, of course, we can't have those now because somebody's trophy house might burn up.
That is such a shame. We have the same problem here in Florida. The pine trees are dying all over the place. I have lost so many myself, now more neighbors are. There should be some kind of cure other than what you mentioned here. Does anyone know of any?
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Old 07-08-2007, 07:19 PM
 
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Spraying with insecticides may save individual trees, but is of very little use when thousand upon thousands of acres are infected. Healthy trees can actually repel the beetles (a healthy Ponderosa, for example, actually can secrete enough pitch to drown the beetles in the bark and cambium), but overcrowding of trees and years of drought have let so many of the trees weakened that the beetles can have a field day (and reproduce like crazy).

About 20 years ago, I was up in a ponderosa forest in southwestern Colorado that was severely infected with beetle. I ran into a friend there who was a forester for the Forest Service. I asked him what could be done about the beetle infestation. I'll never forget his reply (though he swore that he would officially deny ever saying it), "Five gallons of gas and a match!"

Oddly enough, a few years later a lightning strike ignited a fire in that area. Of course, the Forest Service had to go up and put it out for the usual political reasons, but not before it burned several thousand acres. Funny thing, the area that wasn't burned still has a big beetle problem. The area that DID burn is actually starting to come back, and the trees--because they are not overcrowded--are actually healthy.
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Old 07-08-2007, 09:31 PM
 
2,755 posts, read 11,512,833 times
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Jazzlover is spot on the facts of the beetle infestation as I've read about them, and I suspect that he knows far more than I do about it.

From what I can tell, there's almost no talk about "doing" anything to stop the beetles. The beetles will run their course -- we haven't been managing the forests properly as human beings, so mother nature will do it for us. We can't stop or even slow down the beetles. The beetles won't kill every last tree, but they will kill a lot of them, and the trees will die, fall over, and new trees will grow and replace them.

The real worry is fire. There will be lots and lots of fuel on the floors of the forests in the coming years, and that can lead to some massive wildfires. As jazzlover said, wildfires are a part of the natural way of things just like the beetles are, but with all the beetle-kill fuel on the ground, that's going to be a serious forest management headache for years to come.
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Old 07-09-2007, 10:42 AM
 
Location: Colorado
431 posts, read 2,500,244 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
Colorado has a MAJOR problem with mountain pine beetle. It was hoped that this past winter was cold enough to kill some of the overwintering beetles, but--frankly--I doubt that it was. Colorado (and most of the Rocky Mountain West) has a serious problem with "sick" forests. A century plus of fire suppression has made the forests overcrowded--that makes a prime environment for the pine beetle. Pine beetle affects Douglas Firs, Ponderosa Pine, and Lodgepole Pine especially severely--all of those species are common in Colorado forests. There is also a significant infestation of spruce budworm, which--you guessed it--attacks spruce trees. So, it's not a good situation. Several years of warmer than normal winters (global warming?) have also changed the mountain pine beetles maturation cycle from two years to one--that scares the hell out of foresters that I know. Of course, beetle-infected forests are prime for mega-fires--a question not of "if," but "when."

Oh yeah, there is also a "mysterious" die-off of mature aspen that is occurring that foresters are still trying to figure out.

Such is nature. Some of the lush forests I knew as a kid will never look that way again in my lifetime. There is no real "man-made" cure. There's about two things that will kill off beetles. Very cold temperatures for an extended period in winter--or lack of overcrowded and overstressed trees to infect. Fires usually thin out overcrowded timber--but, of course, we can't have those now because somebody's trophy house might burn up.
I might add, if I may, yrs ago, my brother as a college student age worked to cut down infested trees and burn. They also sprayed for this infestion and other problems. (Spray does not have to harmful as in DDT.) Lumber men harvested trees that were marked by NF to thin and keep the forest healthy. Now this thinking is a no no. A big mistake IMO. Some people are even fighting the controlled burns. Also IMO to many are listening to people that have no idea of what they speak. They have no practical experience they only read books. That can be good but books can be wrong too.l
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Old 07-09-2007, 11:41 AM
 
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Thanks for your post, Nadine. You're right on. Years ago, I had some neighbors who were loggers. One of their big sources of business was logging dead or dying timber infected with pine beetle. They would haul the logs to a local sawmill. Now one of the problems with logging beetle-infested trees is that the beetles live in the bark. So, if the bark is left in the forest (or in the logging yard), the beetles can fly off to infect other trees. The solution was to dispose of the bark by either burning it onsite, or burning it in the slash burner at the lumber mill. (Those slash burners--often called "teepees" because of their shape--could be found in just about every mountain town that had a sawmill, and that was most of them. The smell of wood smoke from slash burners is one of my fond memories of growing up in the "old" Colorado.) Of course, now burning is now a no-no, so where does the bark go? Often it is left to rot in the forest. That's OK, I guess, except those beetles are still in there to go and infect more trees.

As I have posted before, I am a strident conservationist, but a lot of what passes for environmental regulation is sometimes not thought out very well. For example, roadbuilding to accomodate logging is often prohibited because it causes ground disturbance and erosion. But, if thinning of trees by logging, or prescribed burning to thin trees can not be done, the result is an overgrown diseased forest prime for a "mega-fire." The problem with a mega-fire is that they "crown-out," burning ALL of the vegetation--and, in some cases, burn so hot that they sterilize the soil. Now you've got thousands of bare acres to erode--makes those few road cuts to enable responsible logging look pretty benign.

That's my beef with a lot of modern "environmentalism." It's often a bunch of out-of-state latté-sipping yuppies who don't know squat about forest ecology, fire behavior, climate, or land management professing to know more about all of it than people who have invested years in education and accumulated years of professional experience in all of those disciplines. Admittedly, the pros make mistakes, too, but they are out there "on the ground" and have their head in the game full-time as their profession.

And the environmental ignorance of so many of the people now moving into the rural areas of the Rocky Mountain West is like watching a really bad horror movie. If what they are doing wasn't so harmful, it's almost comical to see what kind of dumb antic they'll try next.
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Old 07-10-2007, 04:08 PM
 
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The mountains look ill. What should be deep green is yellow and brown.

I agree, human impact is taking its toll on the nature in the west.
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Old 07-10-2007, 04:44 PM
 
Location: Colorado
431 posts, read 2,500,244 times
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Jazzlover--My Dad was a skidder. At that time in a small sawmill. Horses were used to skid logs down to bunkers for loading on trucks to haul to the sawmill. Roads were not allowed to built just anywhere. The area we lived in had been harvested about every 30 yrs or so and the same roads made back when horse and wagon had to haul were the same roads used at that time. Same with the skid trails When an area was cleared, it was inspected by knowledgeable NF people before they would allow an other section to be logged. The trees were marked by these same knowledgeable people. To pass inspection all trimmings as tree tops, limbs etc had to touch the ground so they would rot (anything large enough to lumber had to be lumbered.) Piled takes forever to rot. All bunkers had to be removed etc. At that time the same applied to large sawmills except many used wenches to skid. Later this was not true and a mess was made in this area I grew up in. Roads were cut into everywhere for the logs no skidding was even done. In this area the destruction was stopped by John Denver and the connections he had. These were healthy forests at that time not beetle. But yes sawdust, even slabs were burned back then but not always. Some were sold as was sawdust. I have not ridden in there for several yrs but a big cleanup had been done but the damage will remain for several life times. They roughed up those plowed up areas and reseeded. The old ones I was raised with were left alone. We used to be able to drive all the way in with 4 wheel drives but now the NF has stopped mechanized. You walk or ride a horse. That is a good thing. But my Dad as he became feeble, his favorite ride was to our old summer cabin. I could not take him in his later yrs. That was a sad thing.
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