Monday, August 27, 2007

Beetles devour Colorado forests

Pueblo Chieftain (Colorado): Mountain pine beetles are obliterating a forest that stretches from British Columbia to Mexico, and in the process are creating a hazard for fire, public safety and water supply. “What we’re looking at is an entire lodgepole pine forest dying right before our eyes,” said Gary Severson, executive director of the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments.

…So far, more than 1 million acres of lodgepole pines have been destroyed and another 3 million will be wiped out in Colorado. The damage so far is confined to 15 counties in the northwest part of the state, but is spreading over mountain ridges and moving southward. More than 22 million acres eventually will be destroyed in the American West. Meanwhile, the beetles are making their way across Canada toward the Atlantic Ocean as well.

…“We’re past talking about a bark beetle problem. It’s a people problem,” Carroll said….“We’re doing about 25 percent of what we should be doing,” Carroll said. The damage is spreading faster than in the past, with 660,000 acres of trees destroyed in 2006 alone, and this year’s total still being counted.

In the immediate future the major risk is fire. “We know these areas burn,” Carroll said. “A large fire could happen any time. When you have this kind of huge area with people living in it.”

Down the road, flooding will drag huge amounts of mud into mountain reservoirs, creating problems for water management.

Carroll said the wood has value now and should be harvested. “We need to invest now, rather than say we should have done something differently,” Carroll said. “We get confused about ecology, whose problem is it and bureaucratic issues. Let’s get on with work that needs to be done.”

…Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, sponsored a bill to allow special districts to deal with beetle mitigation. The districts could offer grants for mitigation, such as providing seed money for wood stove-pellet manufacturing. White said the beetle kill will have more serious consequences than climate change. “The beetle situation in five to 10 years will have far more damaging consequences to our water shed than in 50-100 years by global warming. We don't have much time.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Found your blog via Linkedin. Am producing climate change film under contract to NOAA. (NOAA has no editorial control of this project)
Am going to be in NYC n late September to shoot on camera interviews with proactive business leaders. Currently have Peter Darbee of PG&E committed. Seeking more Fortune 500 representatives. Would like to find insurance industry person who can speak well on camera regarding the business imperatives regarding climate change.
Would appreciate your suggestions.
Patrick Gregston
Ceilings Unlimited