For the last 20 years, 425,000 acres of Colorado’s forests have been affected by the Mountain Pine Beetle. Many people are now wondering if there is an end in sight, or if the infestation will continue. The Colorado Forest Service has done observations both within the forests and from aerial detection flights and reported that, “The MPB population has crashed.” In the past few years they have not seen any significant activity, just a few small areas at higher elevations of the lodgepole pine forest. There are other beetles that have contributed to the epidemic such as the Twig, Ips, and Spruce beetles, all of which have also seen significant decreases in the last few years, specifically in Grand County.
What does this mean for re-growth? Within 5 years, a harvested lodgepole pine stand should be in full-swing regeneration. The trees will average less than one-foot tall, but will number in the thousand per acre. In infected areas that are un-harvested, re-growth will also occur in about 5 years, but will grow at a much slower rate taking 10-15 years for full re-growth and numbering in the hundreds per acre. In the absence of a large forest fire, Colorado’s forests will be on their way back to their original beauty in about 5-10 years.