My shows take me to many counties in Colorado and I was astonished to see the bare earth and denuded sites in so many parts of the state. What is happening?
The pine beetle has been munching over the huge forest in Colorado and killing so many trees it makes me sad as if I was in mourning just to look at the landscape. The devastation is immense. Cities like Frisco, Keystone, Breckenridge or Winter Park, to cite just a few, are losing their pine trees so fast or already have lost so many that my heart contracts. Marvelous old creatures that used to grace the mountains and slopes are now dead and all brown under the sun leaving the earth bare. Imagine the wildlife loss of habitat and the unimaginable effect on our climate. Southern Wyoming is also affected as the beetle is eating its way up the land.
There are over one and a half million trees lost to the beetle. It prefers the Lodgepole pine trees that are now a part of so many of our forests and loves to feed on the hundred year old growth that had stood so many years.
It is estimated that by the year two thousand twelve, the beetle will have eaten its way through all of the Lodgepole pine trees in the state. It is frightening. One of the great beauties of our land is its green cover of pine trees and aspen and people come from all over the world to see them.
Apparently, the culprit is global warming that created a drought in the late nineties and early two thousand and made our summers become warmer along with our winters. The beetle was able to climb to higher elevation so that we have these dead tree islands of brown battling the green in our forest and creating a huge fire danger.
When we travel, my husband does most of the driving while I stare fascinated by the land and its curves, its huge mountains and over all the glorious pine trees that cover a good part of our state.
Now, I stare at the desolation, the grand old trees now all dry and dead. But their remains, still reaching out to the sun, reminds me of their live presence years ago.
The spectacle is so overwhelming, it gets under my skin and invades my dreams at night.
I recently read that now the twig beetle is adding to our forest misery by also feeding on our trees.
I guess it is at times like this when I wish I had a magic wand and could eradicate those pests with a simple movement of my hands. But I have only two empty hands feeling useless and desolate at the sight of the old trees now dead.
I mourn your passing, old giants of the forest, and keep in my memories your glorious beauty, the shelter you gave to so many animals and the way you have swayed gently in the wind to delight us.
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Copyright 2010 Micheline Brierre, Editing and photo by Barry Kaplan