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Old 09-24-2011, 07:29 PM
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Is the pine beetle kill affecting the real estate value in Estes Park or surrounding areas?
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Old 09-26-2011, 06:15 PM
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Wink Of trees and real estate

Possibly. Although my feeling that what has primarily influenced real estate prices has been the national economic decline of the last several years.

It seems that the market in the Estes Park region has stabilized of late, with surely some lower prices and better terms than prior to 2007. But it is still an expensive area. What one will notice are a certain number of reality signs about, and properties on the market which might not be otherwise. Exactly why might take the educated guess of a realtor, assuming they would talk.

It is however entirely possible some prescient owners have read the tea leafs, or dry needles of those trees now dead, and come to the conclusion they would rather live in or near a live forest, and conditions for selling, aside from the overall economy, will not improve due Mother Nature's adjustment. Many people probably have their heads firmly stuck in the sand on this one, preferring to ignore what is transpiring or otherwise hope all will somehow work itself out. With some others having come to the conclusion that their investment in a resort area cannot appreciate, or maintain its value, once all has been blackened, figuratively or for real due fire.

It is hard to say. One cannot necessarily believe what entities such as the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, or town of Estes Park have to say, as either they do not know, are biased, or those within these organizations who really do have the soundest knowledge unwilling, or forbidden, to publicly say. A good overall notion can be gleaned from various sites on the internet, and also in field observations. For instance in noting the degree of needle loss common to live evergreens come autumn. Arborists will tell you this is natural, although some familiarity with this ecosystem may suggest to one that certain trees appear stressed, and losing more needles than they should or otherwise would.

There are signs that in areas first experiencing this unnatural blight that a certain stability has returned. In Summit County, or the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, for instance, one will see evidence of the vast number of trees killed by the mountain pine beetle. Yet not as obvious as before as many of these trees have now dropped their rust-brown needles, and as somewhat grey skeletons less visible than formerly. Moreover that the still live green trees scattered throughout appear largely healthy for now, with less sign of trees lately affected and obviously rust-brown in aspect.

In contrast the east side of RMNP may seem more troubling, as only heavily affected in the last few years, and thus with a high incidence of trees newly dead and very obvious.

The 64 dollar question, of course, is to what extent this will eventually play out. The U.S. Forest Service predicted several years ago that within five years 95% of mature lodgepole pines in affected regions would be dead. That has not come to pass over entire regions, if certainly close on some specific mountainsides. Nor for trees should concern be solely with lodgepole pine, as other species of evergreen are affected as well for related reasons. As is, and if this blight continues to the extent it has, then the majority of trees will have died in many areas. But it seems there may be more than a few mature specimens in many areas which will somehow survive. If major forest fires break out in consequence of all the dead wood, then all bets are off. Wildlife, rivers, and other aspects of the greater ecosystem will have some adapting to do, in degree depending, even without fire. But the most hopeful scenario would be that these forests have suffered a significant thinning, but still as such forests instead of what once was with but a very few scraggly survivors. Which in some places is exactly the case, unfortunately.

If in Estes Park and concerned, or unwilling to assume such a risk, then selling now would surely be the best option. Some of the properties which have languished on the market may fall into that category, even if the paucity of interest more due the overall economy.

But those more exactly interested should know that every reliable forecast has the mountains of Colorado with less overall precipitation, more rain and less snow, as well as increasing ambient temperatures. None of which is conducive to the health of these forests as is.
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Old 09-27-2011, 10:22 AM
Location: Estes Park
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Another unpleasant aspect of the pine beetle epidemic that Idunn's excellent summary doesn't include is the extremely widespread use of pesticides during the beetle flight in order to fight their spread.

Carbaryl and permethrin are sprayed liberally on most pine trees in Estes Park proper and a number within the National Park. This may be one of the reasons the spread has been slower than anticipated in these areas. Carbaryl in particular, the most widely used by far, is also a known carcinogen and neurotoxin. It doesn't bother me too much, but it's quite disturbing to my wife.

It's been a minor miracle we haven't seen more crown fires as a result of the beetle epidemic yet.
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