More than 800 million dead trees dot Colorado landscape, could make fires worse

Posted at 12:04 PM, Feb 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-15 14:25:02-05

DENVER -- The devastation to Colorado’s forest caused by beetles has become more severe in the last seven years, according to the Colorado State Forest Service. 

Wednesday’s release of the 2016 Report on the Health of Colorado’s Forests reveals an almost 30 percent increase in the number of dead standing trees in the state’s forests. An estimated 834 million of them now mar the landscape. A 2016 aerial survey put the number of acres destroyed by beetles in Colorado at more than five million.

Foresters warn that the increased tree die-off may result in large, intense wildfires like the 2016 Beaver Creek Fire that burned through beetle-kill timber northwest of Walden.

Dead trees can burn more intensely than living ones. They can also worsen erosion that contaminates waterways fed by rain and melting snow.

The effort to control the epidemic includes planting seedling trees for restoration efforts, wood utilization and marketing, and insect and disease detection.

The Associated Press contributed to this report


Sign up for Denver7 email alerts to stay informed about breaking news and daily headlines.

Or, keep up-to-date by following Denver7 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.