Seventy percent of Colorado’s lodge pole pines have been damaged by the current pine beetle infestation, which is on track to leave behind a Rhode Island-sized area of deforested land. Difficult to prevent on a macro level, the process seems destined to run it’s course, like the infestation of the 1970’s.
The loss of this many live trees means we will have beautiful killed blue pine to work with for many years to come. But after the cycle the material needs to be harvested promptly or we will lose much of the inventory to the elements, including fire. It’s difficult to log in rugged areas with no roads and little permanent logging infrastructure, so the harvesting task seems daunting. And it’s unrealistic to expect anyone to pour dollars into infrastructure for an ephemeral resource.
There have been many good ideas to utilize and encourage the use of beetle kill pine. Wood pellets for wood burning stoves and slabs for siding are common uses. The State of Colorado has even made beetle kill products exempt from state sales tax obligation!
We will continue to do our part to utilize this fantastic wood whenever we can and we look forward to times when our Colorado forests are healing so well that we are forced to import beetle kill pine from other places!