Colorado: Removing Beetle killed trees won’t stop beetles

“The idea of rushing into some sort of removal activity prior to this season’s bug flight doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me,” said Kelly Rogers, who is based in the state agency’s Grand Junction office. “It is just not a place that I would be rushing into to cut a bunch of trees down in a big hurry.” Rogers, who has 30 years of professional forestry experience in Wyoming and Colorado, made his views clear in a May 21 letter to city of Aspen forester Chris Forman.

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“In my opinion it is very likely that all the mature lodgepole pine in this area will be killed by mountain pine beetle, within the next three years, regardless of the management actions taken,” Rogers wrote. Much of the impetus to take action is coming from For the Forest, a recently formed nonprofit organization whose board members are wealthy part- and full-time Aspenites with close ties to the Aspen Institute. The group, led by former Aspen mayor John Bennett, is urging local elected officials to take action before the beetles take flight early this summer and infest and kill more lodgepole pine trees.


“We don’t have to be like Steamboat, we don’t have to be like Vail,” said Jerry Murdock, a Red Mountain homeowner who sits on the For the Forest board of directors, in a recent interview with the Aspen Daily News. “Those places didn’t do anything until it was too late, and I don’t think that we have to be that way. We have to try, because the devastation is horrific.” For the Forest hopes that after four or five years of spreading verbenone and cutting brood trees, the beetles might move on from the Smuggler area, leaving more lodgepole pines alive.


But Rogers thinks trying to stop the beetles by cutting down infested trees is futile. “Sanitation cutting (removing currently infested trees) to reduce the mountain pine beetle population may slow the infestation on the lower slopes of Smuggler Mt., especially if combined with a Verbenone treatment to disrupt mating behavior,” Rogers wrote. “As I have stated, in my opinion it is highly unlikely that the infestation will be stopped by these (or any other) actions.” Verbenone is a pheromone emitted by female beetles who have infested a green tree. It is a signal to other beetles that they should move on to another tree. The non-toxic substance is either sprinkled on the ground near trees or stapled to a tree in a pouch.


“My experience with Verbenone is limited, but by most accounts it does not work well in epidemic situations,” Rogers wrote in his report. Local open space and forestry staffers agree with Rogers about the long-term futility of trying to stop the beetles, but they have still developed an “experiment” on Smuggler Mountain in response to requests from Aspen City Council and the Pitkin County commissioners.

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Comments (1)

mical paradoSeptember 16th, 2009 at 11:59 pm


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