DENVER (KDVR) — For the ninth consecutive year, the spruce beetle remains the most damaging forest pest in Colorado.
To the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS), this isn’t a huge surprise. In 2020, Colorado had three of the largest wildfires in the state’s history: Cameron Peak Fire, East Troublesome Fire and Pine Gulch Fire.
Mix the catastrophic wildfire season with the extreme drought and wind events, and this sets the stage for spruce beetle to easily and quickly infest trees.
In the latest aerial survey, the CSFS continued to see intense spruce beetle infestations around and in Rocky Mountain National Park, Mount Evans, and Guanella Pass.
Some other areas on the radar of the CSFS are areas west of Buena Vista down through Salida and into and around the Collegiate Peaks.
From past outbreaks, we’ve come to know that these infestations are closely tied with climate and precipitation.
“They build their population in trees that have weakened defenses and again trees defend themselves with water, they turn that water into resin. So when there isn’t a whole lot of defenses those bark beetles can build populations quickly. And that’s what we are anticipating for this upcoming season, unless something significantly changes from where we sit right now in snowpack, we anticipate another bad year for bark beetle to move through our forests resources,” shared Dan West, Forest Entomologist, CSFS.
The CSFS is trying to build up resiliency to both beetle and wildfire activity by using mitigation techniques, which are sometimes chemical warfare and sometimes by being proactive.
If anyone at home is wanting to protect their trees, reach out to the forest service to see what the best option is depending on the acreage or number of trees.