Local Bark Beetle Activity - Defensible Space - Beetle Flight Delay

Attendees: 22

The forest health group discussed local bark beetle activity. The emergence of adult pine beetles from infested lodgepole pines has been delayed due to the cool wet May/June in high elevation forests. This gives property owners additional time to protect susceptible trees. Large scale attacks should peak by late August. Rick Herwehe, with A Cut Above Forestry, noted that recent tree inspections in Breckenridge yielded mostly larvae and a few late stage adults under the bark. In addition Rick observed the following:


  • evidence of ips beetle in “doghair” stands of lodgepole pine at a level consistent with past years
  • An increase in spruce beetle attacks in the county’s northern end, reaching as far south as Farmer’s Corner
  • Small pockets of pine needle scale in Frisco
  • Minor problems with aspen scale in Eagle-Vail with none reported in Summit as yet

While detecting little current evidence of pine beetle activity, Katie Larson, of Mountain Pine Beetle Surveying, has seen an increase in ips beetle attacks on stressed pine and spruce. More significantly, she noticed a new insect threat in the forest, Pityopthorus, a secondary bark beetle associated with late stage pine beetle epidemics. Twig beetles, as they are known, attack weakened, dying, and newly felled small trees. Shaded branches on live trees and young trees are susceptible as well. Larson has observed increased mortality among sub-alpine firs in the Montezuma and Upper Blue River.

The Swan River Valley Protection Plan Group is providing a model of a coordinated local response to deteriorating forest conditions. It includes 5 HOAs, a private party, a special district, Summit County Open Space, Upper Blue Sanitation District Open Space and the USFS; they have funded and sprayed 7,000 trees and replanted 5,730 trees and shrubs with assistance from the county’s wildfire mitigation grant program. According to spokesman, Alan Wickert, signs of new beetle attacks are absent so far in the Swan River Valley north of Breckenridge. 

Regarding defensible space, Rick Herwehe commented that the number of people around the county interested in creating fire-wise zones around their homes is increasing, not just in Breckenridge because of its new ordinance.