DENVER (KDVR) — The Colorado State Forest Service has released a new report that states more needs to be done to protect the health of the 14 million acres of forests.
The report comes after one of Colorado’s worst years for wildfires ever. In 2020, the three largest fires in the state’s history exploded and burned more than 600,000 acres.
“Our forests are not in good shape,” said State Forester Mike Lester. “We’ve got 20 years of significant insect issues. We’ve had drought issues the last couple years. Climate change has not been really good to our forests. It’s really kicked up the insect disease cycle.”
The spruce beetle is the main culprit. Warmer winters haven’t been killing the beetles, so they’ve been killing more trees, making them more susceptible to fires.
Another issue is that Colorado’s forests are overcrowded.
“Normally fire would take care of that. Harvesting would take care of that, but we haven’t really been doing that,” Lester said.
Now the Forest Service is working with its federal and local partners to thin more forests more often.