9:38am

Mon September 26, 2011
Forests

Mountain Visitors Cautioned About Falling Tree Hazards

Colorado forest officials say visitors headed to the mountains to enjoy autumn’s changing colors need to be aware of dead lodgepole pines that are at risk of toppling. 

Since the pine beetle epidemic began in 1996, more than 4 million acres of forest land in Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota have been impacted. 

Officials estimate roughly 80% of beetle-killed trees fall within ten years of dying.  Although there are several factors that determine when a tree will topple, there’s no way to be certain.

“Typically wind is one factor that would play into some trees falling over," says Ryan McNertney, a forester with the Granby District of the Colorado State Forest Service.  "But we’ve also been out in the forest on days where it’s pretty calm, and we’ve heard and seen trees come down. So I don’t know that there’s an exact factor of where and how they’re coming down anymore.”

McNertney recommends staying away from forested areas when winds are strong, and that hunters and campers set up far away from dead trees.  Starting Monday, crews in Summit County will begin removing hazardous trees along trails in the White River National Forest.