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Pine Bark Beetle - Hitting Colorado Hard, Anywhere Else?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
The other weekend we were driving I70 through Vail and Summit County and was amazed at how many completely brown, dead trees we saw. Vail looked pretty bad with patchy parts of green and brown, however, at some places in Summit the entire mountainsides were dead with no spots of living trees. I'm just curious if this is the same other places in the Rockies (Utah, Montana, Wyoming)? Are the beetles impacting the pacific northwest?
post #2 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by jay_p View Post
Vail looked pretty bad with patchy parts of green and brown, however, at some places in Summit the entire mountainsides were dead with no spots of living trees.
I drove through Vail in the mid '90s and found it pretty barren and dead looking back then. I can't imagine it looking much worse. North of here (in Central BC - where there are virtually no ski areas), over 50% of the trees have been lost due to the pine beetle problem. So far, we're somewhat unaffected in Southern BC. It's been too long since we've had a winter cold enough to naturally kill them off. Apparently, it needs to be below -25 for at least 3 weeks before the pine beetles will be kept in check.
post #3 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by jay_p View Post
The other weekend we were driving I70 through Vail and Summit County and was amazed at how many completely brown, dead trees we saw. Vail looked pretty bad with patchy parts of green and brown, however, at some places in Summit the entire mountainsides were dead with no spots of living trees. I'm just curious if this is the same other places in the Rockies (Utah, Montana, Wyoming)? Are the beetles impacting the pacific northwest?
You should see the other side of Berthoud Pass/Winter Park, toward Granby and Grand Lake. It's even worse. (If you consider it "bad" -- it certainly looks bad, but I guess it's just part of the natural cycle, and all that. I figure we'll get a whole lot more ski terrain when all the trees go away for a while. Or something like that.)
post #4 of 20
The west slopes of the Wind River range in Wyoming are being decimated.

We've got lots and lots of beetle-killed trees here in Jackson Hole as well. It's a big problem that's getting worse.
post #5 of 20
That's exactly why western Montana is burning right now.
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by jay_p View Post
... Are the beetles impacting the pacific northwest?

We gots Spruce Budworms and Cedar Poachers, but no pine beetles in the PNW.

No pine!
post #7 of 20
Any solution to this? Its just terrible.
post #8 of 20
post #9 of 20
The Kamloops area of BC has been hit pretty hard.
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finndog View Post
Any solution to this?
A return to "normal" weather. (Fat Chance

That means we need cold winters and wetter, cooler springs/summers/falls. "Healthy" trees are fairly resistant to pine bark beetles, drought-stressed trees are not. Forests that have limped along for years with a lack of water are very susceptible to the beetles. Rain helps the trees combat the beetles better. Severe cold during the winter helps decrease the numbers of over-wintering beetles.

So...

Unfortunately, warmer winters mean more beetles and less rain means more and more trees that are more vulnerable the the beetles.

Not a good recipe for the future.

Bob Lee probably knows more about this than anybody on this forum. Maybe he'll chime in.
post #11 of 20
[QUOTE=jay I'm just curious if this is the same other places in the Rockies (Utah, Montana, Wyoming)?

I just heard on the news today that they are starting to kill trees in the Tahoe area. We need to bite the bullet and do whatever it takes to reverse global warming.
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Any solution to this? Its just terrible.
At least in Summit part of the problem is that the lodgepole forests are too dense and not enough diversity with both species and age. Natural forest fires would have helped in the past but the forest service has kept fires in check now for a long time. A large hot-burning fire would be really, really bad as it would sterilize the soil and not allow anything to grow for a long time. I think in Summit the plan is to clearcut some areas of dead lodgepole (the highly visible areas). You can read about the plan here:
http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/whiteriver/projects/ and look at the keystone/lower blue project as well as the Dillon Res project.
Of course, there will still be a lot of brown-red dead trees even if the projects are implemented.

At first, the sight of them really bothered me - now that I'm used to it, it's not really a big deal. I only pray that we don't have a high-intensity fire that kills the soil. Barring that, I look forward to seeing what takes the place of the lodgepoles - aspen groves would be cool.
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by guest1 View Post
We gots Spruce Budworms and Cedar Poachers, but no pine beetles in the PNW.

No pine!
Look again. there's lots of Pine in the Northwest . Just not much west of the Cascades
post #14 of 20
I just finished a trip that took me all along the northern edge of Washington, Idaho, Western Montana, into Alberta, past Fenie, Panorama, into Banff and Jasper, then along Highway 1 to Kamloops, and back to Bellingham.

This problem is everywhere except the west coast and horrendous in many places. Believe GarryZ's map. It's a mess.
post #15 of 20
Ever skied at Brian Head, UT? Used to be mostly covered with pine trees. Now... it ain't.
post #16 of 20
Brainhead used to be much more dense with trees. Now it's just sad:



Uintas have been hard hit in spots, too:




Wasatch only in minor pockets.
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by GarryZ View Post
Look again. there's lots of Pine in the Northwest . Just not much west of the Cascades
If you look at the map you'll see the extension into Alberta. That is actually the start of spread into the northern Boreal forest and across Canada. The scarier part of this is that once the pines are gone, it looks like the beetles are starting to adapt and infest other tree species.
post #18 of 20
I heard that this hit the Steamboat area back in the 70s -- anyone know the story on that?
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finndog View Post
Any solution to this? Its just terrible.
The solution, unfortunately, is going to be a lot less pretty than it is right now. We had a ranch just outside Granby that we just sold. We had spent thousands of dollars the last 8 years spraying trees. Virtually every sprayed tree is now red and dead.

What's really interesting is that, despite the millions of acres of National Forest and National Park (Rocky Mountain National Park is awash in a sea of red pine), the federal gov't has done virtually nothing. Many of the mountain communities are virtual islands surrounded by a federally owned and managed tinderbox.

I fear that in a few years, Grand County and Summit County will be the victim of a wildfire that will be the alpine equivalent of hurricane Katrina. It's extremely depressing, and there is now almost nothing that can be done about it.
post #20 of 20
From what I have heard you need several weeks of sustained below zero Farenheit temps to kill the beetles. I was up in Seward AK last year and it was just awful to see all the dead trees there. I think this past winter though had some very cold temps and might have helped but the beetles are infested and there is nothing that can iradicate them now. Logging in areas where the beetles are known to be in heavy infestations is one way to slow them down but won't eliminate them. Maybe in a few hundred years new tree growths will develop a way to stave off death from these nasty critters. Either that or the forest creatures might develop a taste for these buggers.
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