Bark Beetle Epidemic

More than 4 million acres of forest in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming have been affected by the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic since the first signs of outbreak in 1996. Extended droughts, warm winters, and old dense forests were factors to this epidemic becoming so vast across the Rocky Mountain Region (Region 2).

Mixed vegetation in Medicine Bow NF

Landscape Vegetation Analysis (LaVA)

 LaVA was developed to respond to unprecedented landscape-level tree mortality from bark beetles and other forest health issues that have affected hundreds of thousands of acres across the Medicine Bow National Forest since the late 1990s.

Fall foliage at Vedauwoo

Beyond Bark Beetles

The ten short films in the Beyond Bark Beetles series share the story of the bark beetle outbreak in our western forests and show how the U.S. Forest Service is responding.

The project was a collaboration of the MBRTB and the University of Wyoming Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources.

A male sage grouse

Aerial Detection Survey

Each year during the summer and early fall Forest Health Protection and its partners conduct aerial surveys to map forest insect and disease activity in Region 2. Aerial surveys provide an annual snapshot of forest health conditions over large areas more efficiently and economically than other methods.

Insect eggs on pine tree.

Forest Health Protection

Forest Health Protection in the Rocky Mountain Region (Region 2) provides direct support to managers of federal and tribal lands on issues related to forest health, especially insects and diseases.

Watersheds, future timber production, wildlife habitat, recreation sites, transmission lines, and scenic views have all been affected by the loss of most mature lodgepole pine trees. Beetle-killed trees also present a fuels build-up situation that can result in changed behavior of wildland fires. These events pose threats to homes and property and could cause adverse economic impacts to communities.

A strong and coordinated effort has been and will be utilized to address an epidemic of this size and severity. Collectively with our partners, we are working toward a sustainable forest products industry for both private and public lands in impacted areas. Recognizing that local communities have economies tied to surrounding forests, efforts are community-based to ensure that outcomes are aligned with local community visions.

Visitor Safety Information

Across the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and the Thunder Basin National Forest, trees are falling. Please use caution when visiting National Forest System lands impacted by the mountain pine beetle infestation. Dead trees can and do fall without warning and with little or no help from the wind. Learn more about the Hazard Tree Safety Guidelines.

As hazard trees are removed, some recreation sites, roads, and trails may be temporarily closed. View information about road closures and delayed openings and check to see if any Forest Orders are in place. Always call the ranger district office in the area you plan to visit to get the most current information. 

Projects, Research, and Programs

The Forest Service is implementing numerous projects in cooperation with communities, municipalities, water conservation districts, and State agencies to reduce the impact of wildland fires. Priority is given to projects that help protect watersheds, transmission lines, 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. In addition to local and regional projects and programs, Forest Health Protection is a national initiative.