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  1. #1
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    Default Pine Beetle Epidemic Destroys Colorado's Forests

    Those who are hiking the CT, or even visiting Colorado for the first time (especially along the I-70 corridor), you will likely be shocked at the utter decimation of the pine forests. I lived in Colorado for 16 years in the 1970's and 80's. The forests were magnificent, spectacular. Then, in 2009 I hiked much of the CT, starting in Denver. As I dropped down into Breckenridge, I simply could not believe my eyes. Millions and millions of pine trees, all up and down the Rockies have been killed by Pine Beetles.

    Yet, these beetles have lived in the forests for untold thousands of years. What has occurred that has created the mass destruction of these treasured forests by Pine Beetles?

    If you're interested, here are a couple of (many) videos that explain what some scientists believed has happened... Others have their own ideas.
    If the links don't load, the videos are at You Tube.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdK-B8N4SLc

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tan_fVE_vxQ
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  2. #2

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    Its shocking.
    Half the forest is dead, even if standing

    doesnt bode well for 30 yrs from now

    But heres the thing
    At high elevations, without the persistant shade, trees may never be able to re-establish
    this is seen in places like Vails back bowls
    once fire destroyed the trees, the high solar radiation keeps them from EVER re-establishing

  3. #3

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    Well, you're getting the on your doorstep NIMBY perspective now. We might look into Pine Beetle damage from S Dak to N Cascades to large swaths in Montana in the Rockies to BC. Scientists say, despite the keep biz as usual warming deniers/doubters, warming temps factor into the expansion.

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    I saw some of this near Grand Lake, Colorado when I was out several years ago. Didn't see it as much on my last visit, though. Georgia suffered some of it about a decade ago as well. I recall sections of trail being closed to help stem the spread of it.

  5. #5

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    I grew up on a farm in middle Georgia. In the early 80's pine beetles began making an impact on an area that was almost exclusively pines. Now - 30 years later - there is nothing but hardwoods left. Literally no pine trees survived in that area. Amazing the difference in such a short period of time. With that said, the oak trees grew amazingly fast and we have some beautiful and tall oaks and sweet gums.

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    If you havent seen it, you have no idea how bad it is.

    Probably half of all trees in affected areas are dead.

    Forest service has cut them near trails for safety. So the woods is nothing but dead logs everywhere.

    These are a huge fire spread hazard, so they started stacking the wood up in other areas to prevent fire spread
    In some areas, whole mountainsides have been cut.

    These are pics coming into Breckenridge.....

    In 20 yrs.....may not be a tree left at this rate. Its really shocking and sad to see.

    http://s46.photobucket.com/user/mbb1...]=1&sort=1&o=3

    http://s46.photobucket.com/user/mbb1...]=1&sort=1&o=2

    http://s46.photobucket.com/user/mbb1...]=1&sort=1&o=0

  7. #7
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    Second video above is good but, it is very misleading. Yes, climate change is a factor. I'm a climate change believer. I'm also a forester, and 40 years ago, my professors were predicting this epidemic in the west, and we've seen this building for all those years. We used to sadly refer to the Oregon "red-pine" as far back as 1980. Not withstanding the effects of climate change which I think are real, here's why:

    1. A century of fire control efforts have allowed almost all our high elevation forests to reach mature and over-mature status over huge expanses.

    2. Leading to overstocked stands of older trees which are, even without drought, water stressed and weak, thus being less able to fend off beetle attacks. Young trees are more able to fend off attacks.

    3. Contiguous weakened stands, allowing for the convenient spread of beetles from one trees to the next and one stand to the next, allowing for beetle populations to successfully reproduce, overwinter, and expand.

    Prior to our fire control efforts, fires would blow holes in these forests, leading to a mixed mosaic of older and younger stands. Beetles were always in the forests, but without these large expanses of weakened old trees, the population of beetles was less likely to reach epidemic levels.

    Last month I was hiking in some Colorado wilderness, and I could point to younger pine stands on the adjacent mountainsides that were green islands within these older beetle decimated stands. These were the stands reproduced after 100-200 acre fires 50-60 years ago. That's how mother nature managed these forests, and our misguided efforts to prevent and control fires disrupted the natural processes at work.

    For what its worth, similar processes are at work in the high elevation spruce forests throughout the west. Heck, I was part of efforts to deal with a major spruce bark beetle outbreak in Arizona 30 years ago. Again, not a surprise, but a totally expected outcome given the condition of these forests.

    Yes, climate change is a big factor, perhaps a major factor. But, to fail to mention the factors I've just discussed tells only part of the story. Doing so lends credence to climate change deniers and weakens the message.

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    I remember taking a good 45 min to find a site to pitch in one affected area the FS had not cut up. It was getting dark, not my first choice. Widowmakers everywhere. I pushed on a couple of standing dead trees, and they toppled. Scary

  9. #9
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    Saw similar evidence in Wyoming last week.

  10. #10
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    Lest we not forget.
    The Yellowstone fires of 1988 together formed the largest wildfire in the recorded history of Yellowstone National Park in the United States. Starting as many smaller individual fires, the flames quickly spread out of control with increasing winds and drought and combined into one large conflagration, which burned for several months. The fires almost destroyed two major visitor destinations and, on September 8, 1988, the entire park was closed to all non-emergency personnel for the first time in its history.[1] Only the arrival of cool and moist weather in the late autumn brought the fires to an end. A total of 793,880 acres (3,213 km2), or 36 percent of the park was affected by the wildfires.[2]
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    I had already experience the pine beetle kill last year but was almost sickened by the sight of so many dead trees.

    Here are pictures of an area near Breckinridge in a recent fire area among the beetle kill.
    IMG_1694.JPG

    a high elevation shot up near snow mesa.
    IMG_1335.JPG
    Truly sobering.
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    Yep. And now that the pine beetle has run out of food, the spruce beetle is taking its place. :O

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    When the blight killed the chestnuts , the logged them to save timber.

    The way vast forest is just abandoned to die and rot, or felled in place and left is startling. Horrendous fire hazard.

    I would have thought someone would have benefitted from pulpwood, peeler logs, chipper grade, something. And it wouldnt be left lying there to burn.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 08-22-2017 at 16:36.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    The way vast forest is just abandoned to die and rot, or felled in place and left is startling. Horrendous fire hazard.
    I would have thought someone would have benefitted from pulpwood, peeler logs, chipper grade, something. And it wouldnt be left lying there to burn.
    a. Most of these forests are inaccessible and/or on steep ground.
    b. Even fresh, the wood is of low value.
    c. There is a limited time frame in which to salvage these trees before they become just firewood.
    d. There are very few mills still in existence, especially in Colorado (see f.)
    e. The environmental impacts of such logging often outweigh the benefits of salvage.
    f. Environmentalists oppose most efforts to commercially log, especially in Colorado.

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    Most of the dead forests in the San Juans is the result of the Spruce Beetle -- not the Pine Beetle.

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    And the Spruce Beetle is quickly moving north and east from the San Juan Mountains and is currently killing the trees over Monarch Pass and headed north up the Sawatch Range.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Malto View Post
    I had already experience the pine beetle kill last year but was almost sickened by the sight of so many dead trees.

    Here are pictures of an area near Breckinridge in a recent fire area among the beetle kill.
    IMG_1694.JPG

    a high elevation shot up near snow mesa.
    IMG_1335.JPG
    Truly sobering.
    I was shocked to see so many trees down in that area. Really sad.


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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Apparently the beetles only attack overpopulated mountain environments.
    Get away from Alpine Megalopolis and the situation improves.
    Alas, the uninhabited area around the South San Juan Wilderness Area didn't fare well at all. The Three Forks area of the Conejos River is decimated. Whole drainages are covered with dead standing trees.
    What happened? Climate Change? Fracking? Agent Orange?
    Wayne


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  19. #19
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    Putin and the Russians

  20. #20
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hosh View Post
    Putin and the Russians
    Smacks his head hard. DUH! How could miss the obvious.
    Wayne


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