A Small Beetle With A Big Bite
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.