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Beetles to blame for Colorado’s fires? Blame climate change instead

June 26, 2013

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By Alan Boyle

Tiny, winged bark beetles have been the ecological bad guys of the West for more than a decade, and rightfully so. They’ve killed off millions of acres’ worth of trees in Colorado. Now all those dead trees are feeding the flames across tens of thousands of acres in the southern part of the state.

The West Fork Complex fire raging through southwest Colorado has already burned through more than 75,000 acres, including wide stretches of tinder-dry trees hit by beetle damage.


Are the beetles to blame for wilder wildfires? Not long ago, experts would have said yes. But more recent research suggests that the connection between Colorado’s beetle infestation and the vulnerability to wildfires is more complex than that.

Climate culprit

“The culprit here is the unusual weather conditions, which might become the new norm with climate change,” said Jesse Logan, a retired U.S. Forest Service researcher who has spent decades studying the mountain pine beetle’s effect on Western forests.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Elle permalink
    June 27, 2013 5:10 pm

    Beetles are not the “cause”, they are the “symptom” of ecological destruction taking place world-wide. Any experienced arborist or horticulturist would agree. The trees become stressed and the beetles attack them. Their job is to feed on dying trees.. In a balanced ecosystem, their job is performed to keep that balance. Today, there is no balance. There is pollution, destruction and stupidity. The ol’ “well you-know nature always fixes itself.” crowd is in control, unfortunately. Take a good look into the news about the oceans: red tides, invasions of species whose job it is to clean things up and out, desalinization plants that raise salt levels. It’s humans who are causing nature to kick-in with clean up species who are literally attempting to clean things up.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    June 26, 2013 6:09 pm

    Greetings< I am from New Mexico. Over the last 12 years I have seen many dead trees due to climate changes. The Beetles are the cause of trees dying that climate changes has dry up the forest. No Rain or snow!!! Sad not to blame climate change instead of the beetles. it is the real deal. climate is because of green house gases. Humans are the blame. Please help save the Earth our home. Jake Wolfhart

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