|Our beetles are being
University of Illinois is studying Colorado
communities' response to forest epidemic
Colorado's pine beetles are now
getting national attention. The University of Illinois is
study how towns in the mountains are dealing with the
Dominique Taylor/Vail Daily
June 26, 2006
SUMMIT COUNTY - Vail, Frisco and other Rocky
Mountain communities are under a watchful eye as the region deals with
the pine beetle outbreak and the rampant loss of lodgepole pines.
Courtney Flint, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois,
is studying Frisco, Dillon, Silverthorne, Vail, Granby, Walden and
Kremmling. Flint conducted a similar study from 2003-2005 on Alaska's
response to spruce bark beetle outbreaks, in which the Kenai Peninsula
lost 1.5 million trees over a 20-year period.
The study will provide forest managers with
different views on community vulnerabilities, perceptions of risks to
forests, local resources and actions regarding forest management. It
will show where local communities agree with or differ from the forest
service's plans. It will also indicate if the various regions respond
in similar or different ways.
Homeowners in Vail and Avon's Mountain Star neighborhood have funded
their own pine beetle projects. In Vail, firefighters training for
their chain saw licenses cut trees while in Mountain Star, felled
trees were removed by helicopter.
In Summit County, the Snake River homeowners' association took out
2,000 trees, Frisco is removing 9,000 beetle-infested trees around the
Nordic center, Frisco Bay trail and the disc golf course in an effort
to create long-term forest health. In Summit County, many homeowners'
associations have sprayed for beetles for years.
"We're urging people to spray, telling them it's
the only thing they can do, because there's no other hope," said Pat
Tormey, spokesperson for Ruby Ranch. "We're not saying it will work,
because we don't know, but it's become more pressing now."
This summer, Flint will interview forest managers and about 15 to 30
members of each community, ranging from real estate agents and
business owners to health providers and minority groups, to get their
perspectives on the problem and solutions. She also will attend local
meetings, including the task force's July meeting. In January, she
will mail a survey to households in each community to assess opinions
from the larger populations.
Flint plans to publish her findings in academic journals geared toward
forest management. She also will submit her reports to each Colorado
Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado