4.3 Why are all the trees dead?

Mountain Pine Beetle.

In northern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming, Mountain Pine Beetles have impacted more than 4 million acres since the first signs of outbreak in 1996. The majority of outbreaks have occurred in three forests: Arapaho-Roosevelt, White River and Medicine Bow/Routt. 

Beetles, the size of a grain of rice bored under the bark of thousands of trees across the forest and began to lay eggs, interrupting the flow of nutrients and killing the trees. Although, the mountain pine beetle epidemic is largely over in the area, it's important to know that these beetles are naturally occurring parts of this ecosystem and when the conditions align (drought, stress, competition for water, and trees that are the same age class) the effects can monumental.

Look around Lake Dillon, what do you see? A lot of dead trees, but also patches of green...

What is the Forest Service doing about the dead trees?

The Forest Service works closely with local partners to identify critical areas where the dead trees need to be removed to make way for new, live trees. Clearing the dead trees also creates breaks in fuel which can help to stop wildfires and give firefighters a safe place to make a stand against a wildfire. Clearing away dead trees temporarily leaves a patch of land in the view-shed that doesn't have vegetation on it. However, the patch won't last long, lodge pole pine regenerate quickly and replace the patch with a healthy, new forest which is more resilient against beetles. In this part of the Forest, foresters actively manage, to keep communities safe from wildfire and remove dead trees from the landscape.Dead trees also are a hazard and can fall over easy without warning.