Uptick in Colorado bark beetles: Creating fuel for fires

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COLORADO — We’re seeing a come back from the small but destructive insect, the bark beetle. In recent years warmer temperatures a dry stretches have led to the state’s largest bark beetle outbreak in history.

According to the Colorado State Forest Service, they’ve killed at least three and a half million acres of trees. FOX21 News spoke to a forester in Woodland Park about how this outbreak impacts wildfire season in Colorado. Dave Root says the trees turn red when they’re dead, creating fuel for fires.

“Fires especially are getting larger and more intense. They do a whole lot more damage,” said Root.
“We have had fires in that beetle kill that basically have burned until winter and the snow puts the fire out. No human effort can necessarily contain those things. The idea of sending a fire crew up there is really not an option.”

To help curb the bark beetle outbreak as things heat up during summer, the state Forest Service is giving you a to do list for around your home. From prevention tips to learning how to handle wood that’s already infested to symptoms your tree might be infected click here.

According the State Forest Service, we’re seeing a resurgence of the piñon Ips bark beetle which specifically attacks piñon trees. The insects tend to favor trees that are weakened, broken, fallen or dying.

According to the guide, “Homeowners and landowners can play a crucial role in minimizing the spread of piñon Ips by following the tips offered in this Quick Guide. Concentrated outbreaks can be addressed with a few simple actions that help keep populations of this insect in check.”

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