Mon June 13, 2011

Bark Beetle Continues its Push onto the Front Range

The bark beetle epidemic has long been seen as a mountain or Western Slope problem, but that is not the case.

Compared with recent years, many more lodgepole and ponderosa pine trees along the northern Front Range are fading to red and yellow, thanks to the bark beetle.  This, and the beetle’s mountain reign, will continue this season.

“We’re talking about mountain pine beetle in a forested landscape and we’re talking about mountain pine beetle in our communities, in our urban areas.  We have had some mortality in pines in Fort Collins already, and there’s been considerable mortality in areas like Red Feather Lakes and Virginia Dale,” says Colorado State Forest Service Entomologist Sky Stephens. 

Virginia Dale is a little ghost town about 45 miles northwest of Fort Collins.  Once pine beetles have infested a tree, nothing can be done. But foresters say property owners can spray their trees to prevent an infestation.  That spraying should be done before July 1st.  Emerging adult beetles typically depart dying trees to infest new hosts starting in early July.

Bark beetle activity in lower-elevation stands of ponderosa and lodgepole pine trees on the Front Range has increased more than tenfold from last year. 

In all, the bark beetle has impacted nearly 3.2 million acres of forest in Colorado since the first signs of an outbreak in 1996.

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