Well, Colorado has always had a lot of variability in its climate. The pine beetle and fire issues are somewhat interelated. Poor forest management over the past 100 years allowed the forest to become unhealthy; too many trees, under stress, which creates a lot of fuel for present day fire seasons. And unhealthy forests are more susceptible to pine beetle infestation. The 1961-1970 forest burn, in the midst of intense fire management (remember Smokey the Bear?) makes this a dubious metric to compare anything too.
Colorado has had periods when it didn't snow much and temperaturs were high. The 1930's were like that. And the 1980-81 ski season was a disaster; Breckenridge couldn't open until February.
It was not the decade of the 1960s in particular that were absent of fire in colorado, it was all the years before that as well. Since the 1960s, however the frequency of fires has increased at a phenomenal rate. In the 1960s and 1970s it was less than 10,000 acres/year. In the 1980s and 1990s it was ~25,000acres/year. Since 2000, it has been ~100,000 acres/year.
While forest management practices are one factor in the size and intensity of fires occurring in the US these days, they are not the major factor. In Colorado, historically, there was a small window between snowmelt and the summer rains. That window has opened wide due to the earlier spring. That earlier spring, again, is the major factor in the MPB spread, not forest health. With the lengthening season, beetles have gone from producing 60 eggs per year to 60 x 60 (3600) as the offspring now can reproduce in the same year. An occasional wamr spring allowing that to happen would not be cause for crisis, but when it happens year after year, the beetles devastate forests. You can control for the effects of forest management easily - forest parasites have done the same thing in vast regions where no change has occurred in the forest practices.
If forest management were the primary factor in the extent of fires occurring now, we would see variation in the size and intensity of fires through different fire regimes; i.e. pondo pine forests would be burning more intently while rangelands would not. That's not what we're seeing. What we're seeing is fire instensity increasing in all fire regimes, and the season lengthening.
Sorry to say, the 1" to 3" we were forecast to get today ended as flurries, followed by sunshine. Guess we're not lifting the burn ban this week.