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The Last Stand: Part 2

Driving up the interior of British Columbia is like watching the death march of a single tree hit by the mountain pine beetle. The dense forest is lush and green in the south. Trees slowly turn shades of orange and red farther north, on the fringes of the beetles' current spread. It starts with a tree here. Another there. Then an entire stand. Before long, entire hillsides are afire. If you didn't know what the ruby-tinged countryside signified, you might consider the vast and startling sight appealing, or even beautiful. But continue on, and there's no mistaking the calamity. The red-needled trees eventually are replaced by their inevitable successors, and thorny, gray expanses conquer the landscape.

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Twitchell holds a container with a beetle. Photo by Matt Stensland

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Beetle-killed pines - the remnants of a logging operation along the Yellowhead Highway in northern British Columbia - stand in front of the Caribou Mountains. Photo by Matt Stensland

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A lone beetle-killed lodgepole pine stands along Routt County Road 129 near Steamboat Lake. Photo by Matt Stensland

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John Twitchell, a Steamboat Springs-based forester with the Colorado State Forest Service, stands near a burn pile in the Red Creek subdivision in North Routt County. Photo by Matt Stensland

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Roy Mask, a Gunnison-based entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service, said higher temperatures could spell trouble for the Gunnison National Forest, where frigid winters always have kept the mountain pine beetle in check. Photo by Matt Stensland

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Jim Snetsinger, British Columbia's chief forester, says 52 percent of the province's lodgepole pines are dead. Photo by Matt Stensland

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Beetle-killed lodgepole have been heavily logged from areas around Kamloops, British Columbia. Photo by Matt Stensland

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A robin sits on a dead lodgepole pine branch near Dumont Lake on Rabbit Ears Pass. Photo by Matt Stensland

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Dead lodgepole pine spot the landscape in the high-desert city of Kamloops. Photo by Matt Stensland

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A dead lodgepole remains after logging near Kamloops, British Columbia. Photo by Matt Stensland

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Dr. Dezene Huber with the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George talks about his beetle research at his lab. Photo by Matt Stensland

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Dr. Dezene Huber with the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George points to the tracks the beetles leave in pine trees. Photo by Matt Stensland

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Dr. Dezene Huber, left, with the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, talks with a student in his lab. Photo by Matt Stensland

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Dead pines spot the desert landscape near Kamloops, British Columbia. Photo by Matt Stensland

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Sap on a pine tree in North Routt County holds a defeated beetle. Photo by Matt Stensland

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John Twitchell, a Steamboat Springs-based forester with the Colorado State Forest Service, looks at the burn piles in the Red Creek subdivision in North Routt County. Twitchell advised residents in the subdivision about how to deal with beetle infestation. Photo by Matt Stensland

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Roy Mask, a Gunnison-based entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service, said rising temperatures could spell trouble for the Gunnison National Forest Photo by Matt Stensland

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