Forests

Dan West / Colorado State Forest Service

Spruce beetles have already affected about 40% of spruce firs in Colorado, leaving their mark on hundreds of thousands of acres of conifer forest. As temperatures increase, researchers at Colorado State University predict it’s likely the infestation will follow suit across the Rockies.

Invasive insects and diseases are killing tree species in forests across the U.S., and in turn, weakening one of the planet's natural ways to fight climate change. That's according to a new report published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Creative Commons 2.0 / USDA

Plenty of studies have shown how bark beetle infestations have decimated evergreen trees throughout the Rocky Mountain region, but research scientists wanted to figure out how this tree die-off was affecting actual forest animals. Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service found that some species suffered, while others benefited.

pxhere / CC0

A new study out of our region shows that when more women are involved in group-decision making about natural resources, conservation gets a boost.

Dan West / Colorado State Forest Service

Bark beetles are continuing to cause widespread damage to Colorado’s forests, according to a new study. The annual aerial forest health survey, jointly conducted by the Colorado and U.S. Forest Services, shows spruce forests are at particular risk.

 

Spruce beetles damaged 178,000 acres of Engelmann spruce forest last year, the report says. While that’s down from 2017, the Colorado State Forest Service warns that the beetles are continuing to spread to new, previously unaffected areas.

 

Updated at 3 p.m. Dec. 20 with Trump signing legislation — The long-awaited final version of the farm bill was unveiled Monday night, and it hews somewhat closely to the previous piece of massive legislation — aside from legalizing hemp on a national level. 

I’m marching through a stand of blackened, towering pine trees with fire ecologist Philip Higuera. He stops and sniffs the air.

“We can smell the charcoal here,” he says. “You smell that?”

Higuera is a low-key guy with a trimmed beard and sporty sunglasses. But when I ask him whether the massive wildfire that raced across Lolo Peak in Montana last summer was bad, he corrects my choice of words. 

A report on the health of Colorado’s forests centers on dealing with dead trees as a result of beetles.

Maggie Spencer / 91.5 KRCC

The annual holiday tradition of cutting down a Christmas tree on National Forest land is upon us.

Christmas tree cutting permits are available through local ranger districts.  On sale dates differ depending on location.

Friday Newscast, 1/29/16, 7:04 AM

Jan 29, 2016

Newscast for Friday, January 29, 2016, 7:04 AM:
 


Wednesday Newscast, 9/16/15, 5:32 PM

Sep 16, 2015

Newscast for Wednesday, September 16, 2015, 5:32 PM:

Evergreen shedding is a natural occurrence in the fall in Colorado. As KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports, foresters say it’s simply a part of an annual growth cycle and not a sign of illness or bark beetles.
 

Typically the needles of Ponderosa Pines, Lodge Pole Pines and Douglas Firs will turn yellow and red before dropping off. The trees may also shed small branches. 

Kathryn Hardgrave is the Assistant Forester with the Salida district of the State Forest Service. She says while bark beetles can cause evergreen color changes as well, it’s a different process:

Marci Krivonen / Aspen Public Radio

In the future, forests near Aspen and across the state will likely look a bit different.  Already, mountain shrubs are replacing some Aspen stands and changing the complexion of the region.  Pitkin County is now tracking these shifts on open space properties.  Two Aspen-area non-profit organizations are helping. The new data is thanks to a pair of towers that’s tracking things like soil moisture and temperature. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.