Colorado: This year’s data on Beetle kill has been released

Pine beetles killing Colorado’s mature pine trees expanded their
infestation by 400,000 acres last year, according to federal and state
forestry officials who say tree mortality in the Larimer County area
may not be as bad as initially feared. The infestation is largely
concentrated in the state’s northern mountains, and has been moving
north and east from the Granby and Winter Park area toward Larimer
County. The beetles are attacking and killing larger diameter
lodgepole, ponderosa, limber, and bristlecone pines. The current
epidemic is primarily in lodgepole pines where their trunks are
greater than five inches in diameter, officials said.

Federal and
state forest experts say the larger diversity of trees in the northern
Front Range may help protect the overall forest. In the Granby area,
many of the forests are lodgepole pines of similar ages, due in part
to historic logging, which means the beetles can spread more quickly.
“Because of greater variability in age, size, density and species
diversity in the ponderosa pine-dominated forests of the northern
Front Range, the course of the mountain pine beetle epidemic and the
severity of losses are difficult to predict.,” forest officials said
in announcing the 2007 infestation data today. “We suspect that tree
mortality in ponderosa pines will be more variable than the losses
observed in lodgepole pine forests that are west of the Continental
Divide.”Forest officials released similar data for Wyoming yesterday.

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