Jan 212010
Authors: Lincoln Greenhaw

The U.S. Forest Service will hold a press conference today at 10 a.m. to give the results of the annual aerial survey of forest health for the Rocky Mountain region, according to officials.

Despite recent news reports suggesting the infestation could be winding down, Forest Service Officials said they fear the beetles could do further damage in years to come.

“Maybe they meant it was winding down here where we are, in Summit County or Grand County, but in the Front Range it’s just getting started. … I think you’ll see that born out by the numbers,” said Mary Anne Chambers, Roosevelt Forest Public Affairs Officer for the Bark Beetle Incident Management Team.

Forestry experts say the beetles have decimated almost 3 million acres of lodgepole pine trees in Colorado and Wyoming, and recent reports have implied that beetles might have killed off too much of their food source to thrive.

But the Forest Service is very concerned that the beetles could do serious damage to trees along the Front Range, changing their diet to include the lower altitude Ponderosa Pines. That jump from one species to another may open up many untouched forests to devastation.

“Certainly we’ve seen pine beetles infest Ponderosa Pine before. The question is whether it’s going to be as impactful in the Ponderosa,” said Antony Cheng, Director of the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute at CSU.
Staff writer Lincoln Greenhaw can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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