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Colorado State Foresters Release 2010 Forest Health Report

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Carlye Calvin, UCAR
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Pine bark beetles are taking a toll throughout the Rocky Mountains.

The Colorado State Forest Service has released its tenth annual forest health report, and it finds that insects and disease remain a large threat to the state’s forests.

The Mountain Pine Beetle has impacted some 3.2 million acres in Colorado since 1996, and state foresters say the insect has largely run its course in the northern and central mountains, meaning it’s essentially eaten itself out of house and home.  But, that doesn’t mean it’s no longer a threat, as the insect is now being seen in greater numbers along the Front Range.

“The greatest amount of growth was in Larimer, Boulder, Gilpin and Clear Creek Counties.  The other thing we saw was the bug has moved from Lodgepole Pine into the Ponderose Pine,” says the Director of the Colorado State Forest Service, Jeff Janke. 

Back in the mountains, there are some emerging threats, including thousand cankers disease, which is affecting black walnut trees.

“Black walnut is not a native species in Colorado, but is planted fairly extensively throughout the Front Range, and we’ve seen significant losses of black walnut in Boulder and Denver and Broomfield and Golden and all of those Front Range communities.”

The Spruce Beetle is another emerging threat. Janke says that in 2010 it affected two times the area it did in 2009, impacting about 208,000 acres.  The Forest Service conducts the study through aerial tours of the state as well as data on the ground.  The 2010 report was given to state lawmakers on Wednesday, so that it can be used in future discussions and planning on the Colorado’s forests.