I just got back from Colorado a couple of weeks ago and was amazed by the vast view of brown, not green, pine trees that covered entire mountainsides. The only spots that weren’t brown were black holes consumed by piles of already fallen trees. The forests are taking a beating and will continue to do so all over the region.
The culprit is a rather small insect called the mountain pine beetle. Newsweek recently published an article that says these insects have already killed 22 million acres of pine trees in Canada. Now, they’ve moved their way down to our colorful state and have already eaten up 1.5 million acres there. Colorado state foresters say that the beetles’ favorite treat, the majestic lodgepole pines, will be completely gone in the next couple of years. Unfortunately, they make up 8 percent of Colorado’s 22 million-acre forests.
On a more positive note, though, the wood can easily be produced into wood pellets for wood-burning stoves this winter. Try to think of other ways that these fallen pines can be put to good use, and comment below.