Insect pests can make big mark on forests |

Insect pests can make big mark on forests

Jeremy Heiman

Insect pests have made their mark on local forests.

In the 1940s and ’50s, an infestation of spruce bark beetle killed every spruce tree eight inches or larger in diameter in a 250,000-acre area of the Flat Tops area of the White River National Forest, north of Glenwood Springs. The infestation extended to the east as far as the present town of Vail.

The forests in those areas have recovered nicely. The fir component was not affected, and young spruce trees and groves of aspen are maturing in those areas now.

White River officials are concerned that other such spruce beetle epidemics could occur in the Baylor Park area, a few miles southwest of Sunlight Mountain Resort, and on 400 to 500 acres off Buford-New Castle Road. Both areas have been subject to “blowdowns” – the Buford-New Castle one occurred just last week.

High winds blew down several stands of timber June 19 off Buford-New Castle Road. Much of the downed timber is Engelmann spruce, with some mixed stands of aspen and fir.

“We’re primarily concerned now about the potential for spruce beetle infestation and additional trees falling down,” said Bill Hahnenberg, Blanco District ranger.

The Forest Service had been analyzing the area for a timber sale. A sale of salvage timber may now be necessary, according to the agency.

Last year, a freak windstorm in Baylor Park blew down spruce trees on 2,000 to 3,000 acres there, leading to fears that the opportunistic beetles would multiply rapidly among the dead trees.

“That has the potential of going great guns with the spruce bark beetle,” said Forest Service entomologist Roy Mask.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User