Regional News

Dead Forests Release Less Carbon Into Atmosphere Than Expected

(From UA News, March 22, 2013)

Billions of trees killed in the wake of mountain pine beetle infestations, ranging from Mexico to Alaska, have not resulted in a large spike in carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, contrary to predictions, a UA-led study has found.

Massive tree die-offs release less carbon into the atmosphere than previously thought, new research led by the University of Arizona suggests.

Across the world, trees are dying in increasing numbers, most likely in the wake of a climate changing toward drier and warmer conditions, scientists suspect. In western North America, outbreaks of mountain pine beetles (Dendroctonus ponderosae) have killed billions of trees from Mexico to Alaska over the last decade.

Given that large forested areas play crucial roles in taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis and turning it into biomass, an important question is what happens to that stored carbon when large numbers of trees die.


Pine beetle hearing set for Hill City

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands will hold an oversight field hearing, at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 10, at the Rafter J. Bar Ranch in Hill City.

Participating in the hearing will be Subcommittee Chair-man Rob Bishop of Utah and at-large member S.D. Representative Kristi Noem. Other witnesses may be announced.

Noem described the epidemic as a "slow motion disaster for the Black Hills National Forest and the region's economy."

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‘Perfect Storm’ fuels Wyoming pine beetles

The state of Wyoming is in the spotlight today as part of 50 Stories, 50 States, 50 Days, an interesting blog project from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Since Earth Day, April 22, the agency and its partners are sharing 50 different stories over 50 days focusing on 50 states to tell how climate change is affecting (or may affect) wildlife across the country.

Today, Wyoming’s mountain pine beetle infestation is the daily story on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 50 States, Stories, Days blog. While you’re at the 50-stories blog, check out tales of how rising temperatures are affecting animals and ecosystems in other states.

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Guest column: Saving western states from pine beetles

The pine beetle is wreaking havoc across western forests, and Congressional action is overdue. Over the past decade, upwards of 4 million acres in Colorado and Southern Wyoming have been transformed from a verdant, green, majestic landscape to one that is stained red with dead trees. Beetle-kill trees provide fuel for wildfires that threaten lives and livelihoods - a thought that is even more alarming as fire season grows near. Within this region, 100,000 trees are falling every day Congress fails to act -- a rate of 1 million trees every ten days. These falling trees endanger hikers and campers, but there is a way to fight back.

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Subzero cold snap bad for moth eggs but wasn't long enough to get rid of pine beetles

The cold this week may have been sufficient to kill moth eggs larvae in blankets but still lacked the oomph needed to terminate mountain pine beetles burrowed into Rocky Mountain forests."We need it to be sustained, at least two or three weeks" with temperatures of minus 20 or lower, said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Janelle Smith. "These short cold snaps will not do the job." That's because beetles' bodies produce insulation material that serves as an anti-freeze around them under tree bark. Beetles since 1996 have infested 4.6 million acres of forests in Colorado and Wyoming. Subzero temperatures in Denver, however, may have plunged low enough to zap moth eggs that lead to springtime unraveling of blankets, sweaters and fine rugs. 

Man transforms dead wood into eco-furniture

Corbin Clay found a sustainable use for wood destroyed by beetles, and his work won him $100,000 from Ketel One Vodka and GQ magazine.
Each year in the Rocky Mountains millions of acres of pinewood are ruined by beetles. All those dead trees pose a significant risk for forest fires. While most see that pinewood as useless, Corbin Clay, owner of Azure Furniture, has found a sustainable use for the beetle-kill pinewood. Clay uses that wood and his carpentry skills to create high-end furniture at his Colorado-based company.


Bark beetles = water problems?

CHEYENNE -- Wyoming officials and experts are concerned that the region's bark beetle infestation could lead to flooding or other water supply problems in the state.

On Wednesday, state lawmakers discussed the possibility of funding a study to look at how the many thousands of acres of trees killed by the insects could change forest water yields -- or the amount of water leaving a watershed -- throughout the state.

During their joint meeting with the Wyoming Water Development Commission, members of the interim legislative Select Water Committee informally asked officials to develop a cost estimate for the study.

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Colorado Roadless Rule prop draws heat from conservation groups

The State of Colorado and the U.S. Forest Service today announced yet another draft version of the controversial Colorado Roadless Rule (pdf) that has been hotly debated for nearly six years. Already environmental groups indicated the new draft rule falls short of protecting some of the state’s 4.2 million acres of roadless national forest land.

The release of today’s draft plan and draft environmental impact statement (pdf) starts the clock ticking on what may be the final 90-day public comment period after nearly five and a half years and more than 200,000 public comments. The Obama administration hopes to finalize the Colorado Rule by January of next year.

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Timber-use loans ready Loans for timber use ready

SALIDA — Upper Arkansas area businesses that harvest, use or market beetle-killed pine timber can qualify for financial lending assistance due to new state funding. Loan funds were established by State House Bill 1199, paving the way for the state Forest Service and its partners to establish a Forest Business Loan Fund program. Loans are available to businesses that use timber and wood products harvested from beetle-killed pine tree stands, including those projects that address beetle-kill tree thinning for wildfire risk reduction.

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Pine beetle epidemic grows to more than 4 million acres in Colorado, southern Wyoming

The U.S. Forest Service Friday released the results of new aerial mapping showing the mountain pine bark beetle epidemic raging since the mid 1990s has now consumed more than 4 million acres of pine trees in Colorado and southern Wyoming.

In Colorado alone, more than 400,000 acres of trees were killed last year, mostly in the Arapaho, White River, Roosevelt, Medicine Bow and Routt national forests.

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