Beetle kill brings opportunity at Monarch Mountain

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Crews use a helicopter to remove two spruce trees killed due beetle infestation on Monarch Mountain during September 2019.

Crews at Monarch Mountain along the Continental Divide west of Salida have been very busy over the last two summers. Nearly 20,000 beetle-killed trees have been removed from the ski area with ground crews using helicopters to remove the trees.

Once removed the trees have been used to create snow fences around the ski area to improve efficiency for the Monarch crews and to improve the experience for skiers and borders when on the mountain.

“The beetle infestation started about 10 years ago,” said Dan Bender, Monarch VP of Sales and Marketing. “Monarch Mountain is a steward of the land and is doing this work for fire prevention and guest safety.”

The Spruce Beetle is responsible for the infestation at Monarch Mountain. While this beetle has been active in different parts of the state, the Pine Beetle has also taken many trees across Colorado since the turn of the century.

“We’re doing a collaboration with Meier Skis out of Denver,” said Bender, “to tell the story of our wood and actually use it to make skis and snowboards people can use on our mountain.”

The wood is used to make the core of skis and snowboards and is visible in the middle of each pair of skis and snowboard created as part of the project. The offerings also feature depictions of the pine needle branches and cones of the trees, the beetle itself and some information about the infestation.

Monarch is celebrating its 80th anniversary during the 2019-2020 ski season. This unique wood is also being used to create 80th anniversary skis and boards to help commemorate the ski areas eight decades in southern Colorado.

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