DAN ELLIOTT – February 16, 2017
DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s beetle-infested forests are peppered with an estimated 834 million standing dead trees that threaten to worsen wildfires and degrade vital water supplies that flow from mountains, officials said Wednesday.
Roughly one in every 14 standing trees in the state’s forests is dead, with the total up 30 percent in seven years, the State Forest Service said in its annual report on forest health.
“Is it something to be alarmed about? Of course it is,” State Forester Mike Lester said. “When they have this condition, you should be paying attention to it.”
Infestations of mountain pine beetles and spruce beetles are the main cause of the die-off, Lester said. Beetles are native to the state but have caused far more damage than normal over the past 20 years, attacking more than 7,900 square miles of forest, or more than 20 percent of total forested land.