Mountain Pine Beetle Epidemic

 

Mountain pine beetle infestations continue to grow on public and private lands in Colorado and Wyoming. More than 1.5 million acres of forest in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming are affected by the mountain pine beetle epidemic, which was triggered by an extended drought in the late 1990s and early 2000s. 

By about 2012, beetles will have killed nearly all of the mature lodgepole trees in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming.  Besides affecting watersheds, future timber production, wildlife habitat, recreation sites, transmission lines, and scenic views, beetle-killed trees also present a fuels build-up situation that could result in catastrophic wildland fires.

Facts

  • Mountain pine beetles are killing pine and spruce trees throughout the Rocky Mountains and western U.S. at an unprecedented rate.
  • Extended droughts, warm winters, and old, dense forests have enabled this epidemic to become vast.
  • Although bark beetle outbreaks are natural, the current outbreak is a major threat to regional economics and public safety.
  • The mass of dead trees following beetle epidemics create severe falling and fire hazards.
  • This infestation cannot be stopped. The Forest Service and numerous partners are working to reduce hazards in affected areas and to promote healthy forests in areas that have not yet been impacted.

Affects to Recreation

Some camping areas will be closed or have delayed openings so that crews can remove beetle-killed trees. These trees can fall without warning. Please contact the ranger district office in the area you plan to visit to get the most current closure information.

 

What's Being Done?

  • The Forest Service is implementing numerous projects (fuel reduction and timber management) in cooperation with communities, municipalities, water conservation districts, and state agencies (forestry and transportation) to reduce the impact of wildland fires and other hazards.
  • Priority is given to projects that help protect watersheds, areas along roads and transmission lines, and recreational sites and scenic views in the wildland urban interface.
  • In addition, these same partners are working together to develop emergency management strategies and organizations.
  • Efforts are focused on high priority areas where much can be accomplished and efforts strive to act decisively across ownership boundaries in the most cost-effective and environmentally sound way.
  • Efforts are also community-based to insure that outcomes are aligned with local community visions.