Bark beetles continue to be active within Rocky Mountain National Park, impacting large numbers of conifer trees. The park's priorities for mitigation of the effects of beetles are focused on removing hazard trees and hazard fuels related to the protection of life and property. For several years, Rocky Mountain National Park has had a proactive bark beetle management program. In recent years, bark beetles have been considered at outbreak levels throughout the park. In 2014, the park will continue its mitigation efforts, including applying insecticide, removing hazard trees, prescribed burns, utilizing an air curtain burner, pheromone treatments and implementing temporary closures in a variety of park locations.
Last year, approximately 6,500 trees were treated and nearly all of these trees were protected from attack by bark beetles. Additional sites have been expanded on the east side of the park as infestation rates increase in forests adjacent to high value trees. Insecticide will be applied from the ground and sprayed onto individual trees to repel beetle attacks. Temporary closures will be in effect during spraying operations.
The park is also treating up to 300 high value limber pine trees with verbenone pheromone packets to minimize infestation from bark beetles. Limber pine trees in the park are currently at risk of mountain pine beetle infestation and infection from white pine blister rust, a lethal non-native invasive fungus. Research is being conducted to identify if any limber pine trees within the park are resistant to white pine blister rust.
Park staff and contracted resources will continue to conduct hazard tree mitigation, through tree removal, throughout the year. Planned project sites include: the Bear Lake area, Lily Lake area, Kaley Cottages, along road corridors and in the Endovalley picnic area. Smaller scale, selective hazard tree removals should be anticipated at trailheads, parking areas, picnic areas, roadside pullouts, campgrounds, and visitor centers. Temporary site closures may occur at smaller sites to facilitate safe operations. Material disposal will involve piles for future burning as well as consolidation at designated sites for future use including firewood collection permits. More information on wood utilization will be available in late summer.
For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please contact the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.