DENVER (CBS4) – A new study from the University of Colorado Boulder has promising news about the state’s forests. It says they’re bouncing back after being ravaged by bark beetles.
From 2005 to 2017 there was a severe outbreak of the spruce bark beetle. It swept through more than 741,000 acres of high-elevation forest in the southern Rocky Mountains near Wolf Creek Pass, killing more than 90% of Engelmann spruce trees.
Researchers with CU measured more than 14,000 trees in 105 areas in the eastern San Juan Mountains. They had expected the combined effects of spruce bark beetle and western balsam bark beetle would have prevented forest recovery, however, they found the forests were resilient.
While they saw a recovery, they noted elk and deer often graze on young spruce trees which can stunt future growth. In addition, researchers were also concerned with warming temperatures. They said if the trend continues at a certain point the forests will not be able to recover.