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January 23, 2008

Pine Beetle Epidemic Grows 1500% in Larimer Co., CO in 2007

If you have traveled to Colorado any time recently, (and certainly if you live here), you may have noticed something a little peculiar about some of the pine trees. If you haven't had such a privilege, let me just tell you: there are acres upon acres of red pine trees. Why? The state's lodgepole pine forests have been hit by an unprecedented pine beetle outbreak.

Once restricted to five high country counties along the Continental Divide, the mountain pine beetle epidemic in Colorado has spread to the Eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains and is on a path to wipe out virtually all of the state's lodgepole pine forests in the next 3-5 years. Several years of moderate to severe drought has weakened the trees, and a lack of sustained cold temperatures has prevented any significant kill-off. Fortunately, the preferred food for the pine beetle, lodgepole pines, do not really grow below 6000 feet, so much of the ponderosa, pinon and juniper forests in the foothills will be safe. But that is no comfort for mountain-town residents where the pine beetles have reached epic proportions, because the dead and dying trees could be a significant source of fuel for catastrophic wildfire events. Read more...

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