Spruce Beetle Epidemic Threatens the Grand Mesa
KREX News Room
MESA COUNTY, Colo. Loggers have been working with Grand Mesa officials and the U.S National Forest service to tackle a Spruce Beetle epidemic on the Grand Mesa. Officials say there are about 50,000 acres affected at this time. Officials also say that there hasn't been epidemic proportions like this on the Grand Mesa since the 1930's.
Although small in size, the Spruce Beetle's destruction can be massive and widespread.
Co-owner of Woodchuck Tree Service, Chris Pahl, said, "Potentially, 30 beetles will basically be 60 trees. There can be up to 15 beetles in a small patch."
The natural purpose of the beetle is to help kill old trees, making room for the healthy ones.
Dru-Anne Weaver-Pahl, co-owner of Woodchuck Tree Service, said, "Once they're done with their natural target, they'll move on to healthy trees. When they start infecting the healthy trees that's when we start losing forests."
In the winter of 2010- 2011 a strong micro-burst of wind took down many trees on the Grand Mesa, creating a perfect path of weak trees for the Spruce Beetle to takeover .
The loggers must be aware of the environmental impact with every move they make. Their small operation is necessary to handle a fragile area like this.
"Our low-impact approach works in areas where you need to take care. There's a spring-fed water line that goes to Cedaredge running through this area. Large logging equipment would probably crush or break that water line," Weaver-Pahl said.
Pahl said, "They're letting us get in, get out and take care of the problem."
Without their efforts, the Spruce Beetles could potentially take over the entire forest.
"By the time people notice that the beetles are out of control, it has taken over a very large area and it makes it harder to catch up and keep under control and it makes the forest more prone to fire conditions," said Weaver-Pahl.
"I take pride in what I do and I want my kids to see the forest green," said Pahl.
Their efforts in the forest today are crucial in protecting the forest of tomorrow .