Forests of Red and Gray!
By Phil Hoefer CFA Director
This summer, my wife and I took a road trip to Alaska. What an experience to see and feel the ex- pansiveness of forests and scenery of British Colum- bia, Yukon Territory, and Alaska. It was beautiful yet depressing. One forest condition that was ever present along the Alaskan and Cassiar Highways was dead trees.
I have seen the forest conditions in Grand County, Colorado. Mountain pine beetle is making a major im- pact and thinning the forests. One wonders if there will be many green trees left after the frenzy. Well, you can multiply the conditions from Grand County by thou- sands to get the same idea of infestation in Canada. All the wood processing mills we saw were full of logs wait- ing their turn to be made into useful products. And yet, the hillsides looked like they’ve not been touched.
It isn’t just the lodgepole pines that are being attacked. Spruce have been attacked by budworm and beetles as well. Though the intensity of the attacks has decreased over the last couple years, their evidence is left behind.
So, what is happening? Many scientists state that warmer winters and drought are the culprits. More beetles are surviving which puts them into the epidemic category. At many of the rest stops along the Alaskan Canadian Highway, there are interpretive signs talking about the forest conditions and the problems. The Ca- nadians title their signs, “The Cycles of Nature: A New Viewpoint.” On these signs there is information about the succession of visual aspects of the forest landscape during the pine beetle epidemic. Questions are also an- swered: “What areas are affected by the mountain pine beetle infestation?” “How did this become such a dev- astating epidemic?” “Can’t the infestation be con-
trolled?” What can be done now?” and “Can future epi- demics be prevented?” I’m sure these signs greatly help travelers know what is going on in the forests, especially since lush forest green is being tinted with red and gray colors of dying and dead trees.
Similar informational signs at appropriate roadside stops might be beneficial for Colorado. Surely there must be questions in people’s minds about what is happen- ing. What would it take?
Market Heats up for Wood Pellets as Bioenergy “25x25” initiative has attracted support from dozens of legislators, business associations, conservation groups, and other organizations. Edited from an article in The Forestry Source, Society of American Foresters
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