Winter Work Advised In Battle Against Pine Beetles
Winter is an ideal time to protect neighborhood trees by removing pines that were infested by mountain pine beetles this past summer and fall, according to Town of Estes Park Public Works Director Scott Zurn. “It should be evident which trees were attacked by the entry holes and pitch tubes beetles cause making their way into the trees,” Zurn stated.
Pitch tubes look like wads of bubble gum or pieces of popcorn stuck on the trunks of infested pine trees (see below). These globules of resin are the result of a tree’s efforts to reject beetles. They may be reddish or white in color. Pitch tubes alone do not mean that a tree is infested, since the tree may have been successful in rejecting the beetles. Infestation is confirmed at this time of year only by removing small sections of bark and finding live beetles. The Town’s Beetle Busters, a group of volunteers and Town employees, are trained to do this. Call the Town of Estes Park Public Works Department at 970-577-3587 to arrange a visit.
Inspecting your trees at this time of year has many advantages, according to Zurn, especially for those people who would like to use the wood for heating. Evidence suggests that felling trees now and leaving them on the ground during the winter will kill most, if not all, of the beetles. For this method to work, the downed trees must be cut into firewood lengths or left whole and scored lengthwise with a chainsaw, preferably in several places on the sides and top. Both the Colorado State Forest Service and the U.S. Forest Service endorse this mitigation method.
Infested wood may also be taken to the Town of Estes Park’s free air curtain burner, located at 666 Elm Road, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Trunks must be stripped of branches, have no needles, and be cut into sections no longer than three feet. Only trees infested by pine beetles within the Estes Valley will be accepted.
“We encourage people to begin cutting and delivering wood now instead of waiting until spring. That will help keep the air curtain burner site from becoming overloaded with more beetle-infested wood than we can burn,” Zurn said.
Finding infested trees now also makes it easier to secure help from tree service companies, which are often too busy in May and June to remove trees in a timely fashion. Discovering infested trees often prompts people to spray their trees, and checking them at this time of year offers plenty of time to locate a spraying company and secure an appointment on its spring calendar.
Removal of infested trees is required by state, county and local ordinances, but it’s also the smart thing to do. Beetles fly from infested trees to the nearest susceptible trees, often on the same property or that of neighbors. Each tree produces enough beetles to infest three to four other trees of similar size. Trees that are attacked are generally on properties that have not performed any sort of mitigation, such as thinning, spraying, pheromone packets or removal of brood trees.
For the past few years, the Beetle Busters have helped Estes Valley property owners identify brood trees so they can be removed before the annual beetle flight. The Town recommends calling for a free inspection. To help stem the ongoing epidemic, the Beetle Busters have expanded their efforts to include educating larger groups of property owners, such as homeowners and road associations, on how to identify and manage beetle infestations in their own neighborhoods. Requests for inspections, presentations or educational materials may be made by calling the Public Works Department at 970- 577-3587.
For more information on mountain pine beetle mitigation, visit www.estes.org. To receive Town news and/or meeting agendas in your email inbox, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.