Trees Ripped Up During Colorado’s Historic Avalanche Season to Remain Despite Beetle Threat

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Credit: Jeremy Wallace/Aspen Times

The trees ripped up during Colorado’s historic avalanche season will stay where they are for now, despite fears that the avalanche debris could attract the bark beetle, Forestry officials claim.

“I understand from entomologists that blown-down spruce trees are the perfect breeding ground for spruce beetles,” said Scott Fitzwilliams, White River National Forest supervisor. “It’s definitely a concern, but there’s not much we can do about it.”

The massive snowpack this winter, which still remains in the high country, caused major avalanches across the state which destroyed trees like matchsticks. Slides occurred in places no one has seen slide before, and while numerous aspen trees came down, it’s the spruce trees that are most worrisome when it comes to beetles.

The Rio Grande and Gunnison national forests suffered large spruce tree losses in recent years because of the spruce beetle, reports the Aspen Times, though the infestation was not likely caused by avalanche debris.

“Unfortunately, our strategy with the spruce beetle is hope,” Fitzwilliams added.

The Forest Service will identify avalanche areas in the fall for public firewood gathering, which will be available with a permit.

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