Mountain Pine Beetle Epidemic
Since 1996 more than 4 million acres of Colorado forests have been heavily impacted by the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic. Many of the forests within the Kremmling Field Office are filled with dead trees resulting from the epidemic. A map of affected BLM lands managed by the Kremmling Field Office is available here.
Beetle-Killed Forests are Hazardous!
Nearly 300 miles of roads pass through the more than 70,000 acres of beetle-killed forests in the Kremmling Field Office. Many of these trees have been dead for several years, which means they are beginning to fall. Here are some precautions to take while in the beetle-killed areas:
- Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid dense patches of dead trees. They can fall without
- Stay out of the forest when there are strong winds that could blow down trees. If you are already in the forest when the winds kick up, head to a clearing out of reach of any potential falling trees.
- Place tents and park vehicles in areas where they will not be hit if trees fall. Do not use dead trees to tie off tent lines.
- When driving in remote areas of the forest, park close to a main road, rather than on a spur or one-way section. If trees fall across the road you may be trapped.
- Bring an ax or a saw to remove fallen trees from roads in case you become trapped.
- Keep in mind still-living trees in beetle-killed forests are also more likely to be blown over because they no longer have the support of other trees.
What is BLM doing about the Bark Beetle?
BLM Colorado has developed a comprehensive strategy to help manage this epidemic, called the Bark Beetle Strategic Plan. While the plan includes several management actions, the priority is to reduce the threat to public safety and infrastructure by removing and utilizing beetle-killed trees in travel cooridors and other high-use areas.
The Kremmling Field Office has initiated an environmental review to treat up to 5,300 acres through multiple projects along and adjacent to roads in Grand County over the next several years. Reducing hazards and risk along roads in neighboring Jackson County has been a priority in many of the previous and current projects in the Kremmling Field Office, including several of the 13 currently active contracts covering a total of 1,352 acres, and an additional four projects for more than 1,000 acres that could begin in 2014.
With the market for lumber and wood pellets rebounding from the recession, the demand for access to beetle-killed trees is also rebounding, helping ensure these projects will continue to have interested bidders. New products using material from beetle-killed trees are also creating more opportunity, such as for bioremediation and absorption in the oil and gas industry.
Are beetle-killed trees available for firewood?
Removing firewood or forestry products -- including beetle-killed trees -- from BLM-admininstered lands requires a permit, but you can use beetle-killed trees for firewood on public lands without a permit. For more information about firewood permits, contact the Kremmling Field Office, (970) 724-3000.
For more information on the mountain pine beetle epidemic, visit the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Bark Beetle website.