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Old 07-14-2011, 10:40 AM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
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I recently drove thru the Aspen grove going over Kebler Pass. The Aspens didn't look too bad....for the time being anyway.
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Old 08-31-2011, 08:03 PM
 
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Alot of the early posts on this thread were from 2009 and were concerned with a big fire that would wipe everything out.

It's 2011 now. Did those fires ever occur? (I don't live in CO.)
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Old 08-31-2011, 09:09 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigtexan99 View Post
Alot of the early posts on this thread were from 2009 and were concerned with a big fire that would wipe everything out.

It's 2011 now. Did those fires ever occur? (I don't live in CO.)
There have been some small fires, but weather conditions have been just fortunate enough to prevent megafires from starting. The millions upon millions of dead trees in many areas of Colorado are still there (and their numbers continue to grow) and are just waiting for the right conditions to ignite. New Mexico and Arizona drew the short straws this year, with fires of size and intensity of historic proportions in those two states this year. Colorado was fortunate that this was a La Niña year this year. Southern Colorado was horribly dry for a good part of the summer, but the forests there are not dominated by the beetle-decimated lodgepole forests commonly found in the northern half of Colorado's mountains. It is those lodgepole forests that are rife with dead and dying trees, but northern Colorado enjoyed a wetter than normal winter last year--which does happen sometimes in La Niña years when it does not push drought conditions into northern Colorado. Unfortunately, there are beetle problems developing throughout Colorado in Ponderosa and Douglas Firs, along with Spruce Budworm infestations spreading in spruces. Drought conditions aggravate those problems, so a wet and very cold winter is what is needed to kill the insects and remove stress from the trees. Right now, though, the long-range weather prognostications are for another La Niña year, which usually means a dry winter for the southern half of Colorado and the possibility of drought spreading northward if the La Niña is strong enough. An El Niño event in the Pacific, conversely, can bring heavy winter precipitation to the southern half of Colorado, but can sometimes leave northern Colorado dry.

It's hard to predict what may happen this winter, but there are plenty of dead trees to fuel massive fires if the right combination of wind and dry weather comes together with an ignition source.
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Old 08-31-2011, 09:32 PM
 
Location: CO/UT/AZ/NM Catch me if you can!
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It makes me sad to see so many dead pinon and juniper trees down south here. Those little trees are tough, but the drought is getting even to them. Another season of wildfires is sure to happen in the next year or two. The long range forecast for southwestern Colorado is for abnormally high temps and lower precipitation.
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Old 08-31-2011, 11:04 PM
 
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Wink With some ... a LOT of luck

Not the only fires in the state, but Boulder suffered several serious forest fires just west of it last fall, and at least one again this spring.

Which is somewhat surprising as not only was the snowpack higher than average across a good portion of the state, but thankfully a good deal of rain this summer in north central Colorado. One consequence, it has been a good year for wildflowers.

As far as the poor trees are concerned, it is a wonder, rain or not, that some huge fires have not yet occurred. In places such as Summit and Grand counties large swaths of the lodgepole pine forests are dead, with many entire mountainsides evidencing roughly 90% mortality. One saving grace, perhaps, is that this epidemic first occurred in such regions, with most of the trees now but dead, bare skeletons. A common sight are mountainsides hues of gray to rust-brown, interspersed with some green. Some few trees do survive mixed throughout, although, if difficult to discern from a distance, much of the green likely due new young growth, or other species such as aspen. Then also, somewhat strangely, even in areas highly affected, certain aspects of a mountain, certain areas, can still retain much of their tree cover still apparently in good health.

It is said that as far as forest fires are concerned that these dead trees are most susceptible when dead, but quite rust-brown in appearance in still retaining their dead needles. Many of the trees in Summit County, or on the west side of heavily affected Rocky Mountain National Park, have passed this critical stage in having lost all their needles. However, insofar as RMNP is concerned, most of the trees rapidly dying on the east side of the divide are dead but a year or two, and still heavy with rust-brown foliage. This is the more common sight all along the east side of the divide, with some trees now long enough dead to be without needles, but the majority still retaining them, and indeed all the more of them evident even this year compared to last.

There may lie some vague hope of stabilization in areas long since affected, since it appears most trees are already long dead, but standing, or those remaining alive; at a glance there seems little continuation of that done. But this assessment conjecture at best. What is more certain is that the east side of the divide, down to the edge of the front range plains, has yet to see the worst of this. It is already bad enough in places such as RMNP, but this has not played itself out yet. In regions such as near Nederland there is not as much sign, but no reason they should not be spared worse.

More fires seem a certainty, although in luck maybe somehow this region will spared the recent fate of Arizona and New Mexico.
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Old 09-01-2011, 08:10 AM
 
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Why did Boulder get all of the fires last summer? Seems most were human carelessness / negligence. RP
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Old 09-01-2011, 09:50 AM
 
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Smokey Bear talk to the contrary, once a forest reaches a point of being a tinderbox like so many of Colorado's forests have reached, it is extremely likely that it will find an ignition source, be that man-made or natural. The difference is usually in where the source is. Typically, a natural ignition source is lightning from a dry thunderstorm. Those strikes typically occur on upper hillsides or mountaintops and the fire may confine itself to those areas if dry conditions are not pervasive and winds are not high. Man-made ignition sources tend to occur in valley bottoms (because that is where most roads and camping areas usually are). These can grow quickly into huge fires because the fire can burn up hillsides and create their own draft. Those aren't hard and fast rules, but firefighters will usually say that they prefer fighting natural vs. man-made fires.

To repeat what a long-time Colorado forester (who spent a good chunk of his career with the US Forest Service in fire management) told me years ago, "There are only two kinds of lodgepole forests in the Rockies--the ones that are going to burn and the ones that are burning."
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Old 09-01-2011, 11:31 AM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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Nature's way of killing off the beetles which killed the trees in the first place.
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Old 03-19-2012, 03:32 PM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
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Quote from a recent article in The New York Times concerning the pine beetle infestation:
The evolution of mountain pine beetles to produce two generations of beetle per year instead of one has probably been a factor in the unparralled damage that insects have caused in pine forests in the western United States and Canada over the last decade, according to a new study.
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Old 03-20-2012, 09:15 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CosmicWizard View Post
Quote from a recent article in The New York Times concerning the pine beetle infestation:
The evolution of mountain pine beetles to produce two generations of beetle per year instead of one has probably been a factor in the unparralled damage that insects have caused in pine forests in the western United States and Canada over the last decade, according to a new study.
The NY Times must be digging for news. That is "old news" among the forestry community. I was hearing about that from foresters at least 4 years ago. It is undoubtedly happening again this winter, as this has been one of the warmest winters overall that I can remember, with no extended periods of below zero weather--even in most of the high mountains.

Combine that with a drier than normal winter in many areas and the table is again being set for more beetle-killed trees and a potentially dangerous fire season. Nature will eventually take care of the beetle infestation, but it will not be in a way that humans like. Forest fires will burn up both the beetles and their food supply--and the natural process will start over again. And trophy houses and other man-made crap that is in the way of that process will get "sacrificed", as well. Mother Nature bats last . . .
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