The Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) has run it's course throughout the northern Colorado Rocky Mountains. Estimates show that of the 90% of our mature lodgepole pine timber affected, 70% is in wilderness area, road-less area, or too steep to harvest economically. The best we can possibly hope to manage is roughly 30% of the lodgepole pine timber areas (U.S.F.S., C.S.F.S., DoD, B.L.M., county and private).The timber management options that remain are limited. We need to clean up the dead standing & fallen trees that are all around us to make way for the new forests to come.
Lodgepole pine is a fire-dependent species, which means that it needs the heat of a fire or total sunlight to open the cones in order to reseed. If a new forest starts growing, but then burns before the young trees are old enough to bear cones of their own, we will lose the new forest. We will have no new seed source for the next forest. Managing NOW to reduce the fuels loading per acre is the only way to attempt to keep our regeneration safe from this kind of devastating fire.
Our current poor forest health is the result of the NIMBY (not in my back yard) preservationist movement. But a forest is amazingly dynamic, NOT static, so preserving it, by doing nothing is a truly poor choice! As you can see in the photo, the only green patches in there are the areas previously harvested, indicated by green arrows!
Let our legacy be the KIIMBY (KEEP IT IN MY BACK YARD) movement. Let it be the beginning of an active management, forest stewardship society. Let’s take care of our own back yards, our local forests, and let them provide us with the environmental benefits of a well managed forest, clean air, clean water, recreation, wildlife, and a sustainable supply of the products, jobs, income and tax base that sustain our communities. We all must be actively involved in promoting and implementing good forest stewardship NOW to reduce the fuel loadings left on the ground.