Aerial survey shows decline in one beetle type, surge in other |

Aerial survey shows decline in one beetle type, surge in other

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Aerial surveys of the Routt National Forest indicate that an outbreak of spruce beetles appears to be on the decline, but an infestation of mountain pine beetles is spreading.Andy Cadenhead, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, said these are the first signs the spruce beetle infestation is slowing down. And it may be partly because the beetles have eaten themselves out of house and home.Meanwhile, survey maps show the mountain pine beetles, which kill lodgepole pine, are multiplying rapidly, setting the stage for devastation to large tracks of mature pine across the county and Routt National Forest in the future.”We’re seeing a really dramatic increase, both in the forest and in the county,” said Cadenhead lThere has been a threefold increases in mountain pine beetle populations in recent years. In 2004, land in Routt County that is outside the national forest boundaries showed a six-fold increase in the populations. In perfect conditions for the beetles, the bugs can multiply ten-fold each year.”I think (the mountain pine beetle infestation) got a running start on us,” Cadenhead said. “It’s going to be difficult to put a stop to it.”Spruce and mountain pine beetles are always present in forests, but with the right conditions, their populations can explode, and the beetles then kill large tracts of trees quickly.The population explosions happen in old trees and dense forest stands and require an environmental trigger. For spruce beetles, that trigger was the 4 million trees flattened in the 1997 Routt Divide Blowdown. For mountain pine beetles, that trigger has been recent dry, hot weather.

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