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  1. #1
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    Pine Beetle and Evergreen/Clear Creek County Property Values?

    I've been looking at mountain properties that are commutable distances to DTC and close to trails. But it looks like those evil little bugs are going to migrate down to lower elevation and take all the Lodge-Pole Pine's with them in the next four years.

    So what are your thoughts on buying a mountain house? Wait fours year and see how things pan out? Or Is beetle mania over blown?

    Obviously it would suck to by a secluded house in the pines only to end up having to cut down hundreds of dead trees and have your property value tank 30%. Then again living on a bald hill is still better than living in Denver and you'll have plenty of wood for making stunts .

    Can I borrow someones crystal ball?
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  2. #2
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    Buy something that will have killer views if the trees have to be cut down.
    (Due to fire marshal's instruction for fire mitigation, I had to cut more trees down than I wanted when I built my house near Keystone 15 years ago. The views it opened up were awesome, however.)

    Evergreen single family home sale stats:
    June '08: 38 sales, median price: $405,000
    June '09: 37 sales, median price: $410,000

  3. #3
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    Depending on how high above Evergreen you're looking at, at that elevation most of the trees are Ponderosa Pines, that during this outbreak, don't seem as affected as they were during the last outbreak in the early 70's..

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    Quote Originally Posted by onbelaydave
    Depending on how high above Evergreen you're looking at, at that elevation most of the trees are Ponderosa Pines, that during this outbreak, don't seem as affected as they were during the last outbreak in the early 70's..
    A quick trip over to WP and Fraser will dispel that theory. Look around the prospective property and figure 80% of the trees larger than 4" in diameter are gone... then decide if the property will still have enough privacy to be attractive. You may be able to save a couple key trees by spraying a ton of chemicals, but there's no guarantee.

    On the flip side, the more open areas usually spring up nicely with wildflowers during early summer... and if you have enough moisture you may end up with a new aspen grove in your back yard. In any case, you'll have more than the 15 feet separating most the houses around Denver.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thump
    A quick trip over to WP and Fraser will dispel that theory. Look around the prospective property and figure 80% of the trees larger than 4" in diameter are gone... then decide if the property will still have enough privacy to be attractive. You may be able to save a couple key trees by spraying a ton of chemicals, but there's no guarantee.

    On the flip side, the more open areas usually spring up nicely with wildflowers during early summer... and if you have enough moisture you may end up with a new aspen grove in your back yard. In any case, you'll have more than the 15 feet separating most the houses around Denver.
    The Winter Park/Fraser area is mostly lodgepole, OBD is talking about Ponderosa

  6. #6
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    Too bad rain doesn't kill pine beetles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by onbelaydave
    Depending on how high above Evergreen you're looking at, at that elevation most of the trees are Ponderosa Pines, that during this outbreak, don't seem as affected as they were during the last outbreak in the early 70's..

    Yep, speaking for our little slice of CCC (Dumont), we have lots of trees on our property, but they are mostly juniper, Douglas, aspen and others. I think we have 2 lodgepoles. The forest in CCC is fairly diverse, as compared to Grand County, where they have entire mountainsides covered in lodgepoles, which I recall reading were planted as a result of reforestation efforts -- which is why there are so many of them all together. Anyway, we definitely have some beetle kill creeping in along 40 above Empire and up around Graymont, but a good portion of CCC may get off relatively easy in this particular beetle battle simply because we don't have nearly as many lodgepoles, and the ones we have aren't as densely packed.

    And incidentally, to the OP, property values in CCC have remained fairly stable, though they were far below JeffCo to begin with. Our house would be at least twice as much if it was 12 miles east. Apart from Floyd Hill, housing in CCC is cheap compared to JeffCo/Denver, there are some pretty nice homes hiding up in the hills, and property taxes are really low. It's an easy commute to Denver unless there's snow -- 45 minutes to Coors Field, 1 hour to the airport from our house, 20 minutes to Loveland, about 45 to Mary Jane. I have views of the divide from the top of the hill in our side yard, and a four-season creek right outside the bedroom window. All around, CCC is a nice hidden gem.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanD
    The Winter Park/Fraser area is mostly lodgepole, OBD is talking about Ponderosa
    Got that.. my point is they're killing the ponderosa quite efficiently as well. There's certainly less of them around compared to the lodgepoles, but they're getting just as dead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcdelroy
    Too bad rain doesn't kill pine beetles.
    But it does slow them down by allowing the trees to produce more sap as a defense.. I hope it keeps up all summer this year.

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    As long as you don't mind hard work it won't be a problem. I bought a lot on top of Lee Hill in North Boulder and had 5 Ponderosas hit by Mt Pine Beetle this year. After spending about 23 days over 2 years clearing the lot for future house and thinning the forest because it was too thick, I had the pleasure of spending 3 more days cutting & hand stripping bark this June (when I should have been riding!). Unfortunately there is no good process to debark the trees once cut... after trying to debark with the chainsaw I ended up using an axe because it was faster and less messy.

    As with any mt property, if you get any treed acreage, you'll inevitably spend a lot of time running a saw... but personally I enjoy that more than being stuck behind a computer all day.

    As far as property values go I don't think you'll see major devaluation. Vail and Summit County remain fairly stable and I think the Front Range infestation will be less rapid since Ponderosa are more resilient than lodgepole. If you diversify your forest a bit as well as thin it out (Ponderosas are supposed to have 10 feet of space between the crowns) you’ll be protecting your investment. You can also spray but that's fairly controversial in the mt communities due to impact on groundwater supplies.

    But like you said-- any mountain is 1,000 times better than Denver so go for it! :-)

    PS.. Check well flow rates for the adjoining wells and any homes you look at... water is an issue in a lot of these areas.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by edenger
    After spending about 23 days over 2 years clearing the lot for future house and thinning the forest because it was too thick, I had the pleasure of spending 3 more days cutting & hand stripping bark this June (when I should have been riding!). Unfortunately there is no good process to debark the trees once cut... after trying to debark with the chainsaw I ended up using an axe because it was faster and less messy.
    Why stripping vs the thick plastic wrap method? That sounds like a painful amount of work.

  12. #12
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    Thank you all for the responses!

    The property we were looking at was in Floyd Hill and unfortunately was 90% lodge-pole pines. Aparenty CCC has 25% lodge-poles but it would seem all 25% were on this property .

    I'll be checking out other area's in CCC, but we don't want more than a 45min commute, so I don't know how realistic most of CCC is. BTW Manmountain Dense I've read your posts about the great trails you guys have in CCC. It would be nice to have a few close trails that don't have a bazillion people on them. Now that we have a little girl I've stopped riding, so moving somewhere withing riding distance to the trail heads is the only hope I have of getting back on the bike.

    I also really want to get away from the noise of Denver, but I guess the hills are going to be alive with the sound of chain saws for many years to come.
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

  13. #13
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    Well, look at it this way... there's gonna be a ton of wood for making stunts! If the values go down, I'll buy it all up and make endless trails for all of you!

    Steve71: Good luck! Mountain living is refreshing. I found the air to be cleaner than the Denver area, which was nice. We moved back down from the evergreen area because our winters were longer, and we found that we were using more of the front range ammenities than we thought. When the kiddo's get into random activities, it can make for long driving days. Perhaps the activities you get your kids into are: Widdling, logging, chainsaw repair etc.

    Find a nice lot where you can make your OWN trails! Then you won't have to worry about anyone!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by IndecentExposure
    Perhaps the activities you get your kids into are: Widdling, logging, chainsaw repair etc.

    Find a nice lot where you can make your OWN trails! Then you won't have to worry about anyone!
    Hahahahaha - but what little kids don't Widdle? ... Or did you mean whittling?

    We're looking at one to two acre properties, which isn't enough for a real trail, but plenty for building some nice booters and drops.

    The plan is to keep our Denver property and rent it out. That way we can always move back if things don't work out when the kid(s) get older.
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

  15. #15
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    The plastic wrap -- aka solar treatment approach is not effective in Colorado according to Boulder Mt Fire Dept (referencing their experience and studies from CSU, Steamboat, etc.) The plastic wrap approach is a "solar treatment" designed to burn/kill/dry the galleries (beetle larvae/nests). In the mts where the ground is cool, finding areas with direct access to prolonged sunlight that get hot enough is tough. Thus -- the solar approach doesn't kill the beetles and they just chew right out of the plastic. I know, it's used all over Ned and isn't effective at all

  16. #16
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    You can always pay an afternoon nanny to run the kids to their activites. (I know, an expensive option... but leaving work to drive your kids to ballet and karate or whatever is a bit tough).

    My kids who are 10 months and 2.5 are going to spend every afternoon making and riding great single track, skinnies, and kickers on the property :-)

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by edenger
    PS.. Check well flow rates for the adjoining wells and any homes you look at... water is an issue in a lot of these areas.
    Thanks for the tip!

    Quote Originally Posted by edenger
    My kids who are 10 months and 2.5 are going to spend every afternoon making and riding great single track, skinnies, and kickers on the property :-)
    Hell yeah!
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by edenger
    As long as you don't mind hard work it won't be a problem. I bought a lot on top of Lee Hill in North Boulder and had 5 Ponderosas hit by Mt Pine Beetle this year. After spending about 23 days over 2 years clearing the lot for future house and thinning the forest because it was too thick, I had the pleasure of spending 3 more days cutting & hand stripping bark this June (when I should have been riding!). Unfortunately there is no good process to debark the trees once cut... after trying to debark with the chainsaw I ended up using an axe because it was faster and less messy.

    As with any mt property, if you get any treed acreage, you'll inevitably spend a lot of time running a saw... but personally I enjoy that more than being stuck behind a computer all day.

    As far as property values go I don't think you'll see major devaluation. Vail and Summit County remain fairly stable and I think the Front Range infestation will be less rapid since Ponderosa are more resilient than lodgepole. If you diversify your forest a bit as well as thin it out (Ponderosas are supposed to have 10 feet of space between the crowns) you’ll be protecting your investment. You can also spray but that's fairly controversial in the mt communities due to impact on groundwater supplies.

    But like you said-- any mountain is 1,000 times better than Denver so go for it! :-)

    PS.. Check well flow rates for the adjoining wells and any homes you look at... water is an issue in a lot of these areas.
    I live in Coal Creek Canyon. The beetles hit in the 80's and they are starting in again, although it is not as bad as many areas to the west and north just yet.

    Here is the bottom line: there is nothing you can do. So, you cut 5, or 10 or 50 trees off of your property. What about the Forest Service, State Parks, state school board land, county open space, Denver Water Board? I am within a couple of miles of all five of these public lands, and I almost border a 640 acre tract of school land and Jeffco Open Space.

    No one is treating or cutting those trees, because the job is too huge. You can do whatever you'd like to your property, but the beetles can fly a mile on their own, farther when aided by the wind, which is what you are pissing into.

    Until we get -30F for a week, the beetles will continue to move. The last time that happened in Coal Creek was in about 1989, which is what stopped the infestation that time. If you believe in global warming theory, we may never see those temps again.

  19. #19
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    Yep, Dumont is a pretty great spot. Plenty to ride right out the door, short drive to even more stuff in Evergreen, Summit and Grand County. I don't know where you work, but my wife worked near Coors Field and it took her 45-50 minutes to get there in the morning. Yeah, it was like 55-60 miles or so, but there were exactly two stoplights between our house and her office. A 45 minute commute is a whole lot easier when you're doing 70 the whole way -- I did it for a few weeks and it wasn't bad at all. The only times it was bad were snow days, and some Friday evenings, particularly preceding 3-day weekends. But otherwise, I'd take that drive over gridlock any day.

    My understanding of this particular beetle species is that, once it starts attacking trees besides lodgepoles, that's pretty much a dead end for the bug -- the larvae can't survive in anything besides lodgepoles, so even though adults attack and lay their eggs, the larvae die. So in a perverse way, if the beetles are attacking ponderosa, that's a good sign that they're running out of fuel.

    As for the plastic wrap method of sterilization... My south-facing driveway at 8K feet gets plenty hot on a sunny day, even if it's only 70 degrees. Heck, even in the winter -- our house gets lots of exposure and I rarely need to start a fire or run the furnace on sunny days, even when it's really cold.

    I got a load of suspicious firewood from Grand County a couple years ago, and the forest service in Idaho recommended the plastic wrap technique, just in case. I left it out there from June through October, until I needed to split and stack it. AFAIK, it did the job.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve71
    Thank you all for the responses!

    The property we were looking at was in Floyd Hill and unfortunately was 90% lodge-pole pines. Aparenty CCC has 25% lodge-poles but it would seem all 25% were on this property .

    I'll be checking out other area's in CCC, but we don't want more than a 45min commute, so I don't know how realistic most of CCC is. BTW Manmountain Dense I've read your posts about the great trails you guys have in CCC. It would be nice to have a few close trails that don't have a bazillion people on them. Now that we have a little girl I've stopped riding, so moving somewhere withing riding distance to the trail heads is the only hope I have of getting back on the bike.

    I also really want to get away from the noise of Denver, but I guess the hills are going to be alive with the sound of chain saws for many years to come.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manmountain Dense
    Yep, Dumont is a pretty great spot. Plenty to ride right out the door, short drive to even more stuff in Evergreen, Summit and Grand County. I don't know where you work, but my wife worked near Coors Field and it took her 45-50 minutes to get there in the morning. Yeah, it was like 55-60 miles or so, but there were exactly two stoplights between our house and her office. A 45 minute commute is a whole lot easier when you're doing 70 the whole way -- I did it for a few weeks and it wasn't bad at all. The only times it was bad were snow days, and some Friday evenings, particularly preceding 3-day weekends. But otherwise, I'd take that drive over gridlock any day.
    My wife needs to get to the Denver Tech Center so she still has a way to go on C470 once she gets down the hill. Anything past Floyd Hill puts here commute over 45mins.

    I hate traffic though and 40 miles on the I-70 sure beats 15 on the I-25 in peak hour.

    Sounds like you've got yourself a nice house there with a nice southern exposure. I'm jealous!
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve71
    My wife needs to get to the Denver Tech Center so she still has a way to go on C470 once she gets down the hill. Anything past Floyd Hill puts here commute over 45mins.

    I hate traffic though and 40 miles on the I-70 sure beats 15 on the I-25 in peak hour.

    Sounds like you've got yourself a nice house there with a nice southern exposure. I'm jealous!
    Just about everything beats having to stay on I-25. Although C-470 from I-25 to Wadsworth has pretty much useless suburb commuters who can't merge for crap.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by IndecentExposure
    Just about everything beats having to stay on I-25. Although C-470 from I-25 to Wadsworth has pretty much useless suburb commuters who can't merge for crap.
    Don't forget the gravel trains merging on the Santa Fe hill at 15mph in the morning.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve71
    My wife needs to get to the Denver Tech Center so she still has a way to go on C470 once she gets down the hill. Anything past Floyd Hill puts here commute over 45mins.
    Hopefully she has the flexibility to travel on off-hours? Because the commute from Floyd Hill to the Tech Ctr DURING rush hour would a wrist-slitting experience.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by IndecentExposure
    Just about everything beats having to stay on I-25. Although C-470 from I-25 to Wadsworth has pretty much useless suburb commuters who can't merge for crap.
    After living in Denver for eight years, my opinion of drivers here couldn't sink any lower.
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkaredShtles
    Hopefully she has the flexibility to travel on off-hours? Because the commute from Floyd Hill to the Tech Ctr DURING rush hour would a wrist-slitting experience.

    That doesn't sound good. She tends to go in early-ish and come home during the rush hour. Two or three days a week she works from home.
    Happiness is a warm 2 stroke.

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