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  1. #1
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    The Future of Colorado

    Orange and dead.
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    Take the long cut, we'll get there eventually.

  2. #2
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    it's so sad, I was up in vail/beaver creek today and it's just depressing. Came back to ned and hoped that something will stop the inevitable.

  3. #3
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    its going to suck big time for a while but there's always the aspen trees.

  4. #4
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    This can prove a boom for CO's renewable energy efforts...cellulosic ethanol...if those environmentalist morons can get their heads out of a$$ and not prevent companies from going in to clear out the standing dead (and replant) before it all burns up. If it goes up, western slope of CO = hell on earth. If this scenario happens, every environmentalist who faught against the clearning should be forced to help in the fire fighting effort(s)!

  5. #5
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    there will certainly be some huge fires, not a question of if...

    what is the enviro argument about not clearing? I haven't seen any reports on this.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by nOOby
    there will certainly be some huge fires, not a question of if...

    what is the enviro argument about not clearing? I haven't seen any reports on this.
    You should do some reading about the Blowdown in Zirkel Wilderness Area and (well, this was, I think, a BLM decision...but I think it was influenced by the enviros) the amount of trees/raw fuel and the resulting fires.

    Edit: Doh, I may have confused my understanding of enviros and endangered spcies (Spotted Owls being key example) habitat w/ logging, and salvo logging. My bad...
    Last edited by Pau11y; 08-02-2008 at 10:54 PM.

  7. #7
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    and Sunday afternoon traffic still gets worse! ugh!

  8. #8
    zrm
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    It's a natural dynamic process that is a result of total clear cutting during the mining and logging era followed by total suppression of fire. The situation is simply part of the constantly changing face of nature. Insect infestation, fire, storm blowdown and other process's all have a vital role to play in maintaining a healthy balance of types of plant and animal species. It's only when humans enter the equation with their perceptions, expectations and needs that are contrary to those natural processes that what is natural becomes a problem.

    Most of the beetle killed lodgepole are of limited market value for lumber (the best timber for the lumber market was cut long ago and grows back very slowly at these altitudes) and that market is totally saturated. A great deal of beetle kill, contrary to what Paul11y has posted, have been cut and hauled away. So much so that there is little market for the vast majority of it and a great deal of what has been cut is being mulched. So many millions of board feet have been cut that lots of smart people as of yet haven't been able to come up with a way to keep a good portion of this wood out of land fills.

    Cellulosic ethanol presently has many hurdles before it is a practical feed stock for fuel. There has been some talk of using it as feed stock for bio mass boilers to generate electricity but that has its own set of issues. There is only so much of a market for poor quality lumber stock, pole barns, buck rail fences, and firewood.

    Even if a viable market could be found for beetle kill lodge pole, removing the dead trees on a scale matched to their numbers creates its own set of problems. When trees die and fall, the decomposition process is a vital part of creating soil. Fire also plays a vital role in returning nutrients to the soil and jump starting the process of regeneration. Trees on the ground help slow down soil erosion and provide conditions for insects to break down the wood into nutrients. Blowdown also provides habitat for many animals such as rodents and other small mammals that dig in the soil and further help create favorable conditions for new growth.

    Nature takes care of itself, just not on a time line that fits human expectations. The Forest Service, the BLM, and mountain municipalities all know that we cannot cut or spray our way out of the problem. The best we can do is create defensible space around the urban interface and accept nature for what it is - not always neat and not always subservient to humans needs and desires.

    For mountain bikers it means dead trees will fall onto trails and we'll need to spend more time cutting out trees. A pain in the a** to be sure, and there is probably somewhat of an off chance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time when a tree falls. Of course there is also the asthetic of what was formerly green now being reddish brown, but that it's a matter of our expectations. If we can re-adjust those expectations, we'll be OK in the long run.
    Last edited by zrm; 08-03-2008 at 07:13 AM.

  9. #9
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    I'm going to stand out on a (dead) limb and say that this is natural and it will take care of itself. It seems as though the forest is unhealthy (to many trees) and is doing it's own selective clearing. I'm sure this isn't the first time it has happened and wont' be the last. What sucks is that people is the fact that we build well into the forest, areas now prone to large, devistating fires. I peronsally believe it will take a catostrophic fire or a SEVERE winter to kill the beetles. After that happnes, wait 50-100 years and a new, healthy forest will be instore.

    This is just a guess.

  10. #10
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    Well said.
    A punctured bicycle
    on a hillside desolate,
    will nature make a man of me yet...
    -Morrissey

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by nOOby
    its going to suck big time for a while but there's always the aspen trees.
    We have land off of Crow Hill, outside Bailey - most of it was cleared by the Snaking Fire in '02. I don't know what the land looked like before the fire (we bought in '05), but the Aspens are starting to come back in force and it's beautiful up there - very park-like with the remaining well spaced 100' tall pines and "new" Aspen groves popping up all over the place. I can't wait to see how it looks in 5 years.
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  12. #12
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    Then let it burn along with the hideous real estate that is encroaching on our trails. I'll bring the marshmallows..

  13. #13
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    Good. Something needed to happen to restore healthy forests.

    BTW, this started years ago in NM...
    .




    Strava: turn off your dork logger when you're not on sanctioned trails.

  14. #14
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    It'll burn, damn right about that. Well said ZRM, makes total sense. Its seems odd that with all the research that is done, no one (at least that I know of) didn't forsee something like this possibly happen and somehow try to prevent it. We had to have Colorado's largest wild fire before people starting agreeing to forest thinning etc. I know its easy to say but it really is a shame and who knows if anything could have been done anyway. Regardless, nature will take care of the problem.

    There is one company that I know of that has been given permission to clear cut some of these trees and they use them to make cabinets and other interior furniture. The stuff is absolutely beautiful and of course very expensive. I do think they are working on ways to prepare this wood so that it can be used for exterior construction. We'll see.

    Very interesting topic.
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    So they haven't really figured out a way to stop these beetles yet? We can scoop up dirt from Mars but no solution to these beetles? The impact is massive. I can hardly believe the sections of forests that have been ruined.

    I heard they were working on some butterfly of something (maybe in Aspen) that was a natural predator to these beetles but I have not heard else anything about it for a year.

  16. #16
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    zrm is right, there are issues w/ a lot of the renewable tech today. The reason why I brought up cellulosic ethanol is specifically for the fact that the wood is commercially crap (altho papawheelie pointed to some niche market use for it). However, wood is wood as far as cellulose content so why not make alt. fuel w/ it instead of stuffing it in landfills? I'm not sure about the process in its entirety...if the nutrients held in the wood is destroyed in the conversion process of cellulose to alcohol...have to defer to zrm for this. But if not, it might be recoverable by putting the waste of the process back into the forest, reconstituting the soil...
    zrm: thoughts?

  17. #17
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    while this is natures way of taking care of the problem(human caused, logging and fire suppression) it certainly shouldn't be confused with the natural evolution of these forrests. Healthy forests are thinned by wildfires and have trees of varying sizes and ages that fight infestation.

    The devastating fires that happen lately are not the answer either as they burn too hot and scorch the earth, leaving very little fertile soil for regrowth

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyer
    I heard they were working on some butterfly of something (maybe in Aspen) that was a natural predator to these beetles but I have not heard else anything about it for a year.

    That sounds scary. Not a huge fan on tampering with nature to try to "fix" it.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sleestak
    That sounds scary. Not a huge fan on tampering with nature to try to "fix" it.
    Haha... how Mothera was born

  20. #20
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    right, how many examples are there of good intentions gone bad? Too many to count.

    Quote Originally Posted by sleestak
    That sounds scary. Not a huge fan on tampering with nature to try to "fix" it.

  21. #21
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    You mean the new "everbrown" trees?

    Just think, it's like fall all summer long.


  22. #22
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    yeah, I like aspens but after 8 months a year of trees w/o leaves, I really appreciate the pines and firs.

    Also in the summer there no place like the forests for cool, shady riding. Walker was a oven by 8:30am this morning.

  23. #23
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    well, besides red trees, I-70 will be backed up from Friday morning until Monday morning...stragitht, up and down.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by zrm
    ... It's only when humans enter the equation with their perceptions, expectations and needs that are contrary to those natural processes that what is natural becomes a problem...
    yep.
    Take the long cut, we'll get there eventually.

  25. #25
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    Zrm is right. What people don't get is that it was clear cutting that has caused this debaucle. Pine beetles love certain age tree's. When you clear cut and replant, all the tree's grow with the same age. Most of the tree's in CO are around the same age so the beetles have gone crazy, There are other environmental factors that have contributed.
    So if we just clear cut, we will repeat the problem in 100 years. But if we would have cut some of the tree's down 30 years ago and let the little ones grow and did this every decade we would have good age diversity and a healthier forest.

    And if you think the tree's are bad in Vail, Go to Grand County.

    Edit: Missed Nooby's post. He's right on as well.... Fire's good, Mega fires bad!!!

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by wormvine
    Zrm is right. What people don't get is that it was clear cutting that has caused this debaucle. Pine beetles love certain age tree's. When you clear cut and replant, all the tree's grow with the same age. Most of the tree's in CO are around the same age so the beetles have gone crazy, There are other environmental factors that have contributed.
    This smells of hypocracy.

    Is your house made of wood?

    How do we fix the problem?

  27. #27
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    I had heard that the beetles followed the smell of the Hayman fire.
    If true, we should just blame Terry Barton...

    the drugs made me realize it's not about the drugs

  28. #28
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    one thing the forest service was doing when I worked for them as a firefighter back in the early 90's was restricting the logging units to 40 acres or so. This left healthy forest around the unit and also created clearings for larger wildlife(elk, moose). The problem back in the early 20th century was wholesale clearcutting with no limits, hence the problem we have now; tight, similarly aged trees that lack diversity.

    Quote Originally Posted by IndecentExposure
    This smells of hypocracy.

    Is your house made of wood?

    How do we fix the problem?

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pau11y
    zrm is right, there are issues w/ a lot of the renewable tech today. The reason why I brought up cellulosic ethanol is specifically for the fact that the wood is commercially crap (altho papawheelie pointed to some niche market use for it). However, wood is wood as far as cellulose content so why not make alt. fuel w/ it instead of stuffing it in landfills? I'm not sure about the process in its entirety...if the nutrients held in the wood is destroyed in the conversion process of cellulose to alcohol...have to defer to zrm for this. But if not, it might be recoverable by putting the waste of the process back into the forest, reconstituting the soil...
    zrm: thoughts?
    I'm not sure you could make an adequate analysis of the commercial viability of this process from your Wikipedia article alone, but I imagine there must be some economic hurdles to overcome before these trees could be used for cellulosic ethanol.

    In the meantime, "letting nature take its course" seems like the most reasonable proposition to me. I would say the good people of Summit County and other areas affected by this would do well to start developing plans for protecting their property as well as emergency response plans for the large fires that are sure to be on the horizon.

    Haven't you heard? Brown is the new green.

  30. #30
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    I've a Forest Service (former fire guy) buddy who says the danger will drop significantly once the dead trees drop their needles, which should happen a year or two after they die (from my understanding).

    Up in Kremmling there was talk of a pellet manufacturing plant being planned to use up some of the vast amounts of wood available.

  31. #31
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    From the studying I've done on this the situation doesn't seem to be as dire as people make it out to be. The beetle won't touch trees smaller than 4 inches in diameter, and lodgepole pine is incredibly prolific. Those forests will return inside of 30 years. In the meantime enjoy the aspens! And correct me if I'm wrong but this doesn't seem to have hit the ponderosa pine yet, and hopefully it won't. The beetles tend to search out trees of the same species they matured in, which so far has been all lodgepole. (At least at the epidemic level, these beetles are endemic in all CO pines)

    As for commercial viability my buddy builds houses up here in the FR area and beetle kill is getting used in almost every house he builds. The only difference in the wood according to him is a slight tint. I'm sure there's still way too much to even know how to deal with it.

  32. #32
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    From the ground.....

    As a decade long Grand County cabin owner, MTBR, and a 20+ year Winter Park downhill and xc skier, myself and most lifelong residents will tell you that this generation of beetlekill most likely (1) started in Grand County on Ute Pass, and (2) is worse than most prior beetlekill infestations.

    Mountain Pine Beetles are now taking down younger trees, and the previous ratio of one dead tree = two dead trees the following season has now exploded to 1 to 4+. Most forest service people feel that Grand County, CO lodgepole is now at 85% kill, with the remainder coming in the next season or two. We are also watching other diseases, such as mistletoe, attack spruce and other beetlekill resistant firs.

    This is all in an area surrounding Fraser, CO, known as the icebox of the nation, and frequently the coldest spot in the US for at least a portion of each winter. Obviously, it hasn't been cold enough to stop the beetles this time around. One of our neighbors recalls using oil/petro based sprays back in the 70's and earlier periods of outbreak, which may have worked, but also couldn't happen today. We have been spraying our trees with Astro pesticide the past 6 years in early June before the beetles fly, but have lost all of them taller than 6' in height. Other subdivisions have had some success with Astro, but it is hard to tell if they will prevail and at what cost.

    While falling timber, fire exposure, and sediment runoff into watersheds (ie: Colorado River Basin) are some of the most serious issues we face short-term, this is a long-term challenge. Forests don't just provide aesthetic beauty, shelter, and oxygen, they also protect and provide the fabric of our playgrounds - namely powder snow, singletrack trails, shade, and windblock.

    Fire is the most natural method and actually releases pinecone seeds for regeneration, but most feel it would be uncontrollable. We have been clearing fire breaks for 3-5 years now, and while the red needled slash is most flammable, even those branches without needles are explosive.

    Fallen timber and lack of shade isn't the only thing that trail users will wrestle with. Trees actually create trail architecture and if heavy equipment is used to clear trees, trails as we know them are usually obliterated unless painstaking care is taken to preserve them ie: singletrack.

    As others have described - there's only two short-term ways to clear the decks - catastrophic fire, or clear cut and haul. The third method, leaving standing dead timber and then fallen dead timber, will most certainly be the default approach given the millions of acres of severe topo this issue covers, but it also perhaps extends the recovery and new growth regeneration cycle. Many are thinking of ways to solve this issue through recycling of lumber for construction or fuels, but the costs of setting up timber and processing plants are potentially prohibitive as this is essentially a one-harvest crop of dead trees that will take 30-50 years to regenerate given the arid high-mountain enviro (vs Pacific NW).

    See both Canadian Forest Service and USFS websites - this is a problem throughout the Rocky Mountain West.

    No, I'm not a tree-hugger, but I may become one. Both sides of the aisle will need to pitch in on this. Sorry about the rant and any emotional mis-statements, but it will take all of us to figure it out.

  33. #33
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    I really don't see this as a enviro vs whatever-one-would-a-non-enviro issue. Whether you hugging a tree or jumping trees on your moto, we all need to think of ways to lessen the impact, if there is a way?
    Last edited by nOOby; 08-04-2008 at 03:08 PM.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by nOOby
    I really don't see this as a enviro vs whatever-one-would-a-non-enviro issue. Whether you hugging a tree or jumping trees on your moto, we all need to think of ways to avoid this catastrophe, if there is a way?
    +0.75!

    except for the part on avoiding....from all I see it's too late to avoid, just a matter of how we deal with the aftermath.

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    Yeah apparently there are some spray treatments that work but they must be applied from the ground on a yearly basis. Obviously not a solution for millions of acres... Maybe we'll get a ridiculous cold snap this year and it'll all be over...but I read somewhere about -30 for several days is what's needed. Not likely.

  36. #36
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    true, The current situation is not avoidable. We are really paying for decisions made 100+ years ago. Hopefully we can learn for those mistakes.

    Quote Originally Posted by ibmkidIII
    +0.75!

    except for the part on avoiding....from all I see it's too late to avoid, just a matter of how we deal with the aftermath.

  37. #37
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    I drove over the big hill last weekend. Could not believe my eyes.
    It was very sad.... 70% of the Mtn side was red/dead
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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by ibmkidIII
    just a matter of how we deal with the aftermath.
    Geez, negative Nelly's. Look the the bright side... time to polish up on your northshore skills. Look at all spare lumber for ramps and ladders.

  39. #39
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    Wait til Cameltoe and Mooseknuckle come through. Its game over then.
    Rub n Tiz'zug

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by thump
    Geez, negative Nelly's. Look the the bright side... time to polish up on your northshore skills. Look at all spare lumber for ramps and ladders.
    exactly! If no one goes up there, perhaps we'll be the trail crew!

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by thump
    Geez, negative Nelly's. Look the the bright side... time to polish up on your northshore skills. Look at all spare lumber for ramps and ladders.
    Negative? How was that negative? Me thinks you interpreted it negatively. I was just stating a fact based on what I've read in the media. More or less fact that we'll be losing all the lodgepoles over a given diameter (4ish?). How we deal with it is the question....

    I do like playing on NS stunts....and that's certainly one way to deal with it.

  42. #42
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    Wow, if Green Mtn shows the potential for speed of fire in present burn potential...CRAP!

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by ibmkidIII
    Negative? How was that negative? Me thinks you interpreted it negatively. I was just stating a fact based on what I've read in the media. More or less fact that we'll be losing all the lodgepoles over a given diameter (4ish?). How we deal with it is the question....

    I do like playing on NS stunts....and that's certainly one way to deal with it.
    Didn't mean you specifically, just the overall tone of the thread. I was trying to give a positive suggestion for the aftermath.

    In reality I'm as bummed as anyone about the situation.. I have about 300 trees I stand to lose.. and that's after having thinned about 80 of them this summer. I have a few 50' monsters I'd really like to keep that provide great shade and I'm already running out of spots to put more mulch.

    Unfortunately it's not just the lodgepoles like folks here are saying.. the ponderosa and limber pines are susceptible as well. The douglas firs and pinons seem to fare better, but from what I've seen on the other side of the divide, I wouldn't hold my breath.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by IndecentExposure
    This smells of hypocracy.

    Is your house made of wood?

    How do we fix the problem?
    It's not hypocricy! The forests of Colorado were clear cut before my father was born. That would be like blaming you for the African slave trade. But I do own a house made of wood. But I would rather it be made of concrete and steel stud. But that's another story. And that doesn't mean I support massive clear cutting either. As others have mentioned, there are many ways to harvest lumber that doesn't massacre the entire forest. Tree's are a valuable sustainable resource.

    How do we fix the problem? In my opinion, We need age diversity. So you have to harvest and use as much of the old lumber as possible. Make lemonade out of lemon's. Some is gonna die and fall over but there is already a huge amount of deadfall as it is and that is what scares me. We need some fires to clean out the deadfall and to help germinate the next generations. But we don't want mega fires that burn so hot that they kill the seeds in the ground.
    We also need to selectively cull the new trees in the coming decades so that younger tree's have a chance to grow. This will create a more age diverse forest. And more resistant to beetle infestation.

    Will we able to do this??? NO. I believe all the tree's will die. A huge fire will rage in CO and wipe out everything. New tree's will grow. They will all be the same age. In 100 years, CO will go through the same thing again. Unfortunately......

  45. #45
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    This is a great example of Mother Nature taking care of herself. It is all about disturbance regimes, whether its fire, volcanos, blowdown or beetles, the environment is always changing and we can't stop it. Everyone wants to keep their own "snapshot in time" of their favorite wilderness area or their favorite campsite and hope that it stays the same forever. But thats what makes the ecology of the woods interesting. If we are managing Mesa Verde, then we want to preserve a snapshot in time, but if we are managing Forests, Wilderness or National Parks, (I guess BLM fits in to that as well), then we have to expect, anticipate and manage for change. Instead of being bummed out about the trees turning red, folks should be anticipating whats next? More aspen? More fire? More brush? Whatever it is, get over being bummed about the trees dying (because you can't do anything about it anyway), and plan for whats next.

    We have started calling this the "Stages of Beetle Grief"...You can save yourself a lot of heartache by going straight to the "ACCEPTANCE" phase!!!!

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by wormvine
    Zrm is right. What people don't get is that it was clear cutting that has caused this debaucle.
    Oh that's just Bovine Fecal Material.

    My dad had an uncle that homesteaded a small ranch in the William's Fork Valley back in the 20's. I fished, hiked, and hunted that valley since the 60's. Some of my earliest childhood memories are there.

    Clear cut my arse. Where are the stumps?

    That land was NEVER clear cut and yet the entire valley is being attacked by the beetle. EXCEPT for the acrage that was managed and harvested. Ask any of the old timers up there about James Oray. His tombstone is up above the treeline, it says "Toughtest SOB in the valley".


    Go spread your spotted owl ELF manure somewhere else.
    Last edited by insect_o_man; 08-04-2008 at 08:07 PM.
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  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by wormvine
    It's not hypocricy! The forests of Colorado were clear cut before my father was born. That would be like blaming you for the African slave trade. But I do own a house made of wood. But I would rather it be made of concrete and steel stud. But that's another story. And that doesn't mean I support massive clear cutting either. As others have mentioned, there are many ways to harvest lumber that doesn't massacre the entire forest. Tree's are a valuable sustainable resource.

    How do we fix the problem? In my opinion, We need age diversity. So you have to harvest and use as much of the old lumber as possible. Make lemonade out of lemon's. Some is gonna die and fall over but there is already a huge amount of deadfall as it is and that is what scares me. We need some fires to clean out the deadfall and to help germinate the next generations. But we don't want mega fires that burn so hot that they kill the seeds in the ground.
    We also need to selectively cull the new trees in the coming decades so that younger tree's have a chance to grow. This will create a more age diverse forest. And more resistant to beetle infestation.

    Will we able to do this??? NO. I believe all the tree's will die. A huge fire will rage in CO and wipe out everything. New tree's will grow. They will all be the same age. In 100 years, CO will go through the same thing again. Unfortunately......
    Can you plz explain (or provide a link to) why age homogenization due to clear cuts is, in your sentiment, one of the key contribution, to the bark beetle infestation? Because from observations of those who posted on this thread, bettles are no longer differentiating young vs mature trees, with hints of them also starting to not differentiate between species of trees. The reason I ask is I've heard of some negatives of clear cuts - soil errosion/depletion, catastrophic impact on habitat...etc, as told to me by a former roommate who was a logger with a degree in forestry management. But I haven't heard of age of the new growth as a negative. Don't take this as an antagonizing response; I'm seriously interested.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by wormvine
    The forests of Colorado were clear cut before my father was born.
    So quite a few people have said this in this thread...though I'm not doubting it (why would I not believe 20 some random mtbrers?), does anyone have a little more solid reference for the fact that all/most of colorado was clear cut at some point?

    I poked around on google and didn't find much off hand.

    Not sure if I've been in a "virgin" forest before or not....

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debaser
    Orange and dead.
    No. This is forrest burned in the Hayman fire. See the green?





    Nature survives - It'll even survive the Dumb-a$$ U.S. Forrest Service not allowing nature to burn mature forrests.

    Now stop snivling and go live and ride.
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  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by thump
    Unfortunately it's not just the lodgepoles like folks here are saying.. the ponderosa and limber pines are susceptible as well. The douglas firs and pinons seem to fare better, but from what I've seen on the other side of the divide, I wouldn't hold my breath.
    True, but the pine beetles are endemic to all these species. From what I've read (USFS has a lot of literature on this) a pine beetle will find the same tree it matured in, traveling up to 2 mile to find a host. The Ponderosa stands are less likely to suffer at the epidemic level (although it has happened in thepast...) based on how they grow - much more spread out as compared to the lodgepole pine - as well as the fact that the Ponderosa stands are mixed age and generally have other pine species in the stands. Also, the Ponderosa stands are currently much healthier compared to the lodgepole stands. The 10+ year drought we've been having has severely weakened those trees whereas the Ponderosas are better adapted to aridity. Drought combined with single aged, old stands is decimating the lodgepoles. Maybe this is just wishful thinking on my part - love my FC area trees....

    Hopefully when this all goes down we actually have smart fire management - not allowing fires to clean our forests is a big reason this is happening.

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