Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Death of the Trees

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.

                                                   Healthy pine trees in Colorado

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.

For more information, see the link below:

Copyright 2010 Micheline Brierre, Editing and photo by Barry Kaplan


  1. I, too, mourn the passing of a three-story pine tree that graced my window for the past fifteen years. I watched many a magenta sunrise and nursed my son at that window. Home schooled Elisha on that window seat. Prayed heartfelt prayers. Enjoyed winter's sparkling brilliance lingering on the old tree's widespread branches. Alas, the dreaded beetle has left it lifeless outside my window. So sad.

    Micheline, I so enjoy your blogs. You write with such elegance and emotion. My spirit is moved.

    Love, Ami

  2. The really sad thing is that a lot this could have prevented but for many,
    many years the forest service was stopped from their regular maintenance of
    the cutting and clearing of sick trees which are the ones highly susceptible
    to pine beetle kill etc and any type of cutting of trees at all, What
    sounded good and right to some and not based on good science has it's

  3. Micheline, I share your concerns for the Colorado forests. It is devastating news.

    In California we have forests of huge Sequoias and redwoods that have lived for hundreds of years. The loggers have left a few hundred feet of forest on each side of the highway when driving in Northern California. They are attempting to allow us all to think that the forests are still there. The forests are disappearing by man's hand! And of course we have the infamous beetle devastation as well in our local forests. Isn't there a natural remedy for these pests? I'm surprised that planes have not droploaded tons of poisonous pesticides in our prized forested land and killed off the wildlife as well.

    I cringe at the thought of the Amazonian and other rainforests falling to the call of agriculture and other manmade interests. Is anyone awake? Aren't we at all concerned for our world's future? I want to scream my objections and stand in front of the earthmovers mowing down each precious tree.

    Yes, there will be an "end time" and it will be of our own making.

  4. Hi Micheline! I think the "pests" are not so much the beetles - they are just one in a long line of consequences based on poor choices made by the kind of humans whose soul purpose seems to be to get rich at any price. And in the end WE ARE ALL ACCOUNTABLE for buying into the idea that we need all this shit they tell us we need. And what we really need is slowly slipping through our fingers like sand: All the trees, the clean air, the clean water in our streams, lakes and oceans. We are acting worse than the pesky rodents and bugs we all dislike. We must be the change we want to see in the world. There is no other way. It will not happen unless we make it happen.

  5. Micheline,

    To make things even worse, Colorado is now experiencing the White Pine Rust fungus on some of our oldest trees, the Bristlecone Pines; Ash Blight on some of our hardwoods, and drought stress (and beetles) that has killed off many acres of Pinon Pines especially in SW Colorado.

    As one who loves trees it is heartbreaking for me to bear witness to this destruction.


  6. Dear Micheline,
    I too find it very sad to loose so many beautiful trees, but I think it's part of nature's way of renewing hitself in a cyclical matter every so many years.
    I remember the problem we had with the fir trees in QC for several years with a small caterpillar that was eating all the new shoots on each and every fir...and then one day it all stopped and they said at the time that it would come back every 7 years or so. I think we have to stop taking all the blame and start thinking that it is part of the rejuvenation of nature...seeds are on the ground and in time it will grow back.
    All the bugs have a cycle and some years you will get a lot of "cicadas" for example, and then nothing for many years, and of course when they come out of their hidding places, these bugs are hungry, so they eat what they like most.
    Nature is changing all the time and we are too, as long as we respect those changes and adapt to them, it will all be taken care of, I think.
    Love Micheline in LC