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Forest Service Officials: Spruce Beetle Populations Exponentially Increasing

U.S. Forest Service

The spruce beetle epidemic and aspen decline in the Grand Mesa, Umcompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests were discussed Tuesday at a public meeting in Montrose. 

Over 70 people attended the meeting, and learned from U.S. Forest Service officials the spruce beetle population is exponentially increasing within the three National Forests.

People also learned the Forest Service projects that most of the Umcompahgre Plateau and Grand Mesa will become too warm for aspens by 2060.

The purpose of the meeting was to inform the public about the Forest Service’s four alternatives for managing the beetle epidemic and aspen decline. The alternatives will be presented in the agency’s draft environmental impact statement, which is set to be released in September.  

Under the alternatives, the agency is considering allowing salvage logging, planting more resilient trees and using prescribed burns to treat infected areas.

David Pattersen, an 86-year-old salvage logger, attended the meeting.

“I’ve been in the timber business since 1956. And, I’m interested... in the future of the forest," Pattersen said. 

The audience comprised of federal, state, and local officials, hunters, environmentalists, private land owners, loggers, and concerned members of the public.