The Beetles Are Getting Political

UPDATED: The mountain pine beetle (MPB) has become one of Campaign 2006 hottest political topics in rural areas. The beetle equally shared the spotlight with water and gas drilling issues at a recent Western Slope Club 20 debate. Although this issue has been buzzing for a couple of years now, the devastation in the forests along I-70 and in other areas are so dramatic that quick action must commence. Plus, the threat of a catastrophic fire is a matter of “when” not “if.” (See earlier Colorado Confidential story.)Summit County residents will be looking into the crystal ball at an Our Future Summit “After the Pine Beetle: Summit County’s Future Landscape” forum with the Mountain Pine Beetle Task Force this Thursday, September 14 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Community Center in Frisco.

So why is this bug getting to be a big political deal? A scientific solution for the eradication of MPB is also going to be a political one. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Read in between the lines from this Colorado State University report:

Another method of prevention involves forest management. In general, the MPB likes forests that are old and dense. Thinning out excess trees reduces forest density, lessens fire hazard and improves individual tree vigor. Most mature Colorado forests have about twice as many trees as forests more resistant to MPB.

Thinning means logging. Logging means controversy. And for Summit County residents, all of this may mean a change of lifestyle as well as a change in their landscape.

Photo of trees affected by a pine beetle infestation is from the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension web site.