While the spruce bark beetle has infected thousands of acres in the San Juan National Forest, another beetle is making gains in a different part of the forest.
The roundheaded pine beetle has infested about 500 to 600 acres on the east side of the Dolores River Canyon about six miles north of Bradfield Bridge, said Mark Krabath, timber and mechanical fuel supervisor at the Dolores Public Lands Office. This is up from the 300 acres in 2013.
The beetles attack the largest pine in the stand and have worked their way down to 5-inch diameter samplings, Krabath said.
The outbreak started in 2012 and first was discovered by someone running cattle on national forest land.
“It’s really the first sizable beetle outbreak we’ve had in this district since I got here in 1999,” Krabath said.
The beetle has killed about 50 percent of the trees in the stands it attacks.
The district has been working to limit its impact by working to clear 3,200 acres of dense ponderosa pine in the vicinity of the outbreak.
“The best we can do is try to increase the vigor and health of the stands around (the outbreak),” Krabath said.
The efforts have included mastication and upcoming timber sales. Unfortunately, there is not much of a market for ponderosa pine outside of fire wood.