Editorial Board, May 2008 to August 2008
- Bryna Larsen, publisher
- Brent Boyer, editor
- Mike Lawrence, city editor
- Tom Ross, reporter
- Eric Morris, community representative
- Paul Draper, community representative
Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or email@example.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.
Steamboat Springs Our pine forests are under attack, and they are dying.
Most of us who live in Routt County have watched the transformation of our hillsides as pine trees turn from green to red. Soon, they will be gray, and only time will tell what will replace them.
We're not alone. Mountain pine beetles are feasting on forests across the state and throughout the Rocky Mountain West, spreading as far north as British Columbia. Scientists studying the epidemic say it shouldn't be dismissed as simply the latest iteration of a cyclical natural phenomena. No, they say, the pine beetle epidemic is unprecedented in its scope. And man is at least partially to blame.
The gradual warming of the Earth's temperatures and forest management practices have allowed our pine forests to grow old and dense. Fire suppression and a decrease in permitted logging activity have allowed those fuels to accumulate in significant numbers. We've created an all-you-can-eat buffet of epic proportions for the pine beetle population, and they're getting their money's worth.
From Emerald Mountain to Mount Werner and the Flat Tops and Mount Zirkel wilderness areas, local pine forests are undergoing a colorful transformation usually reserved for deciduous tree species. The rust-colored foliage that dots our scenic landscapes signifies one thing: death.
The impacts to communities subject to the epidemic are less clear, but for mountain resort cities such as Steamboat Springs, the pine beetle poses serious threats to property values, tourism and general safety.
In The Last Stand, a five-part series on the mountain pine beetle epidemic and the West's dying forests, the Steamboat Pilot & Today explores the science behind the epidemic; forest management practices; impacts to industry, property values and tourism; fire danger and the environmental fallout; and our future forests.
The series kicks off today with "A Battle Lost: The social and emotional impacts of our changing forests." Each section will appear in the Sunday Pilot & Today as a special four-page pullout. The online version will include additional photos, videos and audio.
The series has taken reporter Brandon Gee and photographer Matt Stensland across the state and as far as British Columbia, where the pine beetle has ravaged more than 33.3 million acres of pine forests. Nicole Miller is the lead designer for The Last Stand.
Make no mistake: The mountain pine beetle epidemic will affect our public forests and private properties for years to come, potentially in ways we have yet to consider. Understanding the issue is the first step toward coping with it.