Feds considering mosquito controls
The Aspen Ranger District is reviewing a proposal from the East Aspen Metro Mosquito Control District for application of larvicides east of Aspen.
The Forest Service will consider the effects of a larvicide application before authorizing the activity on National Forest lands, including the Difficult Campground area.
The federal agency wouldn’t be likely to consider the use of larvicide to eliminate mosquitoes as a nuisance, but the potential introduction and spread of West Nile Virus has heightened concerns, according to Cindy Dean, realty specialist with the Aspen Ranger District.
The spread of the mosquito-borne virus into Colorado last year has focused attention on the habitat, control, eradication and prevention of mosquito populations in the Aspen area. The Mosquito Control District annually conducts mosquito control east of town in areas where stagnant, standing water sources provide ideal mosquito-breeding habitat, like the North Star Nature Preserve.
Such conditions also exist on National Forest lands, including Difficult Campground, five miles southeast of Aspen on Highway 82.
The mosquito control would occur from late spring through summer, using a combination of VectoBac and VectoLex larvicides. The East Aspen Metro Mosquito Control District will employ individuals to identify, map and treat developing mosquito larvae every 10 days on National Forest lands, according to the proposal. Larvicide will only be applied to areas where mosquito larvae are present.
The active ingredients in VectoBac and VectoLex are naturally occurring bacterium (Bacillus thuringiensis and Bacillus sphaericus, respectively). When the larvae ingest the bacteria, toxins disrupt their digestive system, and the larvae die within 48 hours. These pesticides are known to affect only developing larvae of mosquitoes, black flies and gnats, according to the Forest Service.
Approximately 50 acres of Forest Service lands would receive applications, depending on mosquito larvae development and their growth stage in stagnant, standing water sources.
Last year, there were 3,399 human cases of West Nile Virus in the United States that resulted in 193 deaths, according to statistics cited by the Aspen Environmental Health Department. Most of the deaths occurred in the elderly and very young.
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The Aspen School District’s budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year is shaping up stronger than the pandemic-bogged finances from last year, according to district Chief Financial Officer Linda Warhoe.“We’re getting our head above water and we’re coming up on shore,” Warhoe said in an interview last week.