Wolf Creek Finds Silver Lining After Beetle Infestation

Mitch Flores | | Industry NewsIndustry News
beetle infestation
Dead trees from beetle infestation piled up and removed from the ski area. Image: Wolf Creek Ski Area

The spruce beetle has changed the scenery at Wolf Creek Ski Area located in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. It only took a few years for the beetle to impact nearly all 1,581 acres of the ski area. The beetle has since moved west,  but the damage continues to be a problem. The ski area has been lucky that a fire has not broken out within its boundaries. In 2013 a fire ran through an estimated 109,000 acres on nearby Wolf Creek Pass. Additionally, dead trees are susceptible to falling and injuring skiers and riders. During a single snowstorm, an estimated 20 to 30 dead trees fall.

“It’s a problem, but it’s also part of nature.” -Davey Pitcher, owner of Wolf Creek

This past summer the ski area removed an estimated 4,000 trees killed from the infestation. The project removed hazardous trees, reduced some fire danger, but most importantly made way for a new ski lift and adds new beginner/intermediate trails. The new “Charity Jane Express” eliminates the need for skiers to traverse from Horse Shoe Bowl to Alberta Peak.

A helicopter removes dead trees from the ski area. Image: Wolf Creek Ski Area

Over the next decade, the ski area will continue working on projects to mitigate the threats of fire and reduce the dangers of falling trees. 

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3 thoughts on “Wolf Creek Finds Silver Lining After Beetle Infestation

  1. I lived in Pagosa Springs Colorado for 20 years I recently crossed Wolf Creek pass the devastation affected me in a way that I cannot put in words…I’ve never seen anything like it…I have tears in my eyes as I post this comment….Wold Creek Pass used to be one the most beautiful places I had ever seen….to see it in this condition…caused my chest to hurt….my heart to break….and my mind to question….how….why….like I said….there just aren’t any words! Praying for these beautiful lands to be restored!!

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