Colorado State Forest Service says off-color pine needles normal, not disease |

Colorado State Forest Service says off-color pine needles normal, not disease

Thousands of evergreen trees in the High Country are beginning to display dying orange and brown needles, but foresters say most trees are simply going through a natural shedding process and are not infested by bark beetles or tree disease.

Colorado evergreens shed their older, interior needles as part of an annual growth cycle. Needles on the lower portion of the crowns or closest to the trunk are most commonly shed, but trees stressed due to drought or root damage may shed more needles to keep the tree in balance with its root system.

Soon-to-be shed needles typically turn yellow first, then a reddish-orange or brown color before dropping off.

In the Colorado State Forest Service Granby District, which serves Summit, Eagle and Grand counties, lodgepole pine is the tree species that most commonly sheds needles in September and October. However, other local conifer trees, such as spruce and fir, also experience needle drop in the fall.

In contrast, needles on beetle-infested trees typically change color throughout the entire tree, initially starting with an off-shade of green and turning to reddish-orange by the following summer. Beetle-infested trees also show other signs of attack, such as fine sawdust at the base of the tree and popcorn-shaped masses of resin on the trunk.

This fall needle drop is frequently mislabeled as needle cast, but the term actually refers to a fungal disease of spruce and fir trees.

For more information about tree and forest health, contact the CSFS Granby District at (970) 887-3121 or visit

Snowmass hosts wildfire community resilience conference

Registration is still open for the 2015 Colorado Wildland Fire Conference where speakers will discuss reducing community vulnerability to wildfire.

A “Fire Adapted Community” incorporates people, buildings, businesses, infrastructure, cultural resources and natural areas to prepare for the effects of wildfire.

Anyone interested is encouraged to attend the conference at the Viceroy Hotel in Snowmass Village from Sept. 24-26.

More than 30 presentations will cover a wide range of wildland fire topics, including real estate, land-use planning, homeowners insurance and prescribed fire.

In addition, each day of the conference kicks off with a keynote speaker. Thursday’s is Kathleen Tierney, whose research focuses on the political economy of disasters, disaster risk reduction, community resilience and business and economic resilience. Friday’s keynote speaker is Jack Cohen, whose research on how homes ignite led to the development of the home ignition zone concept and the Firewise Communities USA program. Saturday’s is Molly Mowery, who is part of the Network Coordination Team for Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network.

To learn more about the conference or register, visit

Colorado State Forest Service celebrates 60th anniversary

This year, the Colorado State Forest Service is celebrating 60 years of providing forestry information to the state.

Established in 1955, the CSFS is a service and outreach agency of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. The agency also provides staffing for the forestry division within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

About 105 full time and 30 seasonal CSFS employees help improve forest conditions and serve Coloradans from 19 field offices throughout the state. Each year, the agency helps treat more than 20,000 acres of forestland, assists about 6,400 landowners and hundreds of communities to improve forest health, and provides forest management on state lands.

CSFS programs and services include forest and timber management; insect and disease detection; growing trees and shrubs for conservation; wildfire mitigation assistance and outreach; invasive-species planning and response; wood-utilization assistance and outreach; and education for forest landowners, communities, teachers and homeowner associations.

“The CSFS plays a critical role linking on-the-ground management to cutting-edge research findings and education of landowners and Colorado’s public,” said Dr. John Hayes, dean, Warner College of Natural Resources.

This year, the CSFS and USDA Forest Service also are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the 1990 Farm Bill, which enhanced the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act and enabled the federal Forest Service to provide broad financial and technical assistance to states and private landowners.

For more information about the CSFS and its services, publications and other resources, visit

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