It’s hard to believe such a small thing could cause so much trouble. That’s really the first thing that comes to mind when you look at the brown, wasted slopes of the mountains. All this beauty, all the majestic might of the Rockies and a little 5mm bug is enough to eat it all up. I’m talking, of course, about the Mountain Pine Beetle and it’s the reason the peaks here are dry and not bursting in green life. It’s also the reason the owners of the park we’re staying at have felled over 8,000 trees on their property.

The weirdness of it all is that the Beetle is actually native to the area. It’s lived in these forests for eons in delicate balance with the trees, munching a bit here and there, but not hardy enough to hurt healthy growth. All that changed with a few years of warmer summers and mild winters. The balance tipped and the Beetle became an epidemic killing literally millions of acres of trees. This part of the Rockies is particularly hard hit and almost all the slopes around Grand Lake are dead, creating a massive fire hazard and an overwhelming problem for the Forest authorities.

But where there is death there is always life and in-between the dry wood and brown slopes you can see new life bursting forth in all it’s green glory. In 10-20 years, they say, all this will be lush and alive again.

A forest of brown

The colors are pretty, but these should all be dark green

The bark of a tree that's been eaten shows signs of the Beetle

The Forest authorities try to fell and re-sell as much timber as they can

A burst of new life


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2 Responses to A Small Beetle With A Big Bite

  1. rvfulltimers says:

    We have the same problem with the black spruce beetle. It is destroying my very favorite tree of the North more and more every year. It is sad to see the trees that survive harsh winters get destroyed by something so small. They were the most beautiful things I noticed on the Alaska Highway, next to the aspen and birch. Tall, skinny spruce. Beautiful. And now endangered.

  2. […] it’s a bit on the rustic side (no fancy sites here) and they’ve been devastated by the Pine Beetle so there’s only a spattering of trees left (the owners had to fell over 8,000 on the […]

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