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Why Remove Beetle-Kill and Dead-Fall

By January 7, 2022 No Comments

With the New Year upon us, we are more determined than ever to push forward with our mission of removing beetle kill and educating ourselves and our followers on healthy forestry practices. 

Throughout the Rocky Mountain West, our outdoor pursuits, professions and properties are increasingly threatened by wildfires. While fires are widely considered a healthy part of nature’s cycle, the scale of these fires have grown considerably due to the neglected abundance of deadfall wood present on public and private land.

So why remove beetle-kill and dead fall? The three major factors are extreme fire hazard, the greenhouse gasses these fires are producing and the risks of water contamination in mountain ecosystems and our water supply. 


Extreme Fire Hazard

The mass amount of Beetle-kill and dead-fall has become a mega fuel to smaller fires, making them impossible to contain and more destructive to our resources than ever before. In the state of Colorado, Spruce beetles have roughly killed 1.9 million acres of trees since the early 2000’s. Many trees have also died from the lack of water and longer drought periods that Colorado has been experiencing since the 90’s. Tree mortality is a natural occurrence, however, the abnormal amount of beetle-kill and drought-caused deadfall (to the tune of millions of trees) is resulting in our forests being susceptible to the most hazardous wildfires ever recorded. Millions of dead, dry trees equal monstrous uncontrollable fires. 


Greenhouse Gasses 

After a large wildfire has run its course, the next issue we face is the amount of planet-warming carbon dioxide it has produced. Burning vegetation and the combustion of litter releases CO2 back into the atmosphere which continues to warm the planet. According to the International Energy Agency, 32.5 billion tons of CO2 have been released from wildfires since 2017. The Greenhouse Gas Referencing Network also puts these fires into perspective. They found that 500,00 burned acres could emit the same total amount of CO2 as six large coal -fired power plants in one year. We could take 5 steps forward with energy efficient initiatives but if these destructive fires continue we will be taking 15 steps back, every time.


Water Contamination

The aftermath of the fires we are continuing to experience here in Colorado also have catastrophic effects on the water supply, which provides drinking and irrigation water to 13 other Western states. Not only do our forests filter the air we breathe, they filter the water we drink (fun fact – two thirds of the U.S. drinking water originates from our forests). Water supplies are negatively affected years and sometimes decades after a burn. Pre-burn, forest vegetation holds soil and retains water. Once a fire has run its course and consumed this barrier of vegetation, sediment flows freely into our greatest resources downstream. Fire ash and contamination settle into streams, reservoirs and lakes. The lack of vegetation also causes flooding, harmful algae blooms and impacts the quality of drinking water. 

The cost of water quality restoration to ensure our water sources are safe to drink from is expensive. In 2020 the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome Fire broke out in Colorado and burned over 402,000 acres. The cost of reservoir and river restoration in wake of this fire is still climbing in numbers. The Colorado Big Thompson watershed cleanup is a project estimated at 35 million, and this is just on private land. The devastating effects from the recent Colorado fires will continue to impact water issues for the next ten years and will require taxpayer dollars for funding.


Let’s give mother nature a hand in keeping our forests healthy. Mitigation done the right way can help prevent these fires from spreading so quickly and give our trees a fighting chance. Remove beetle-kill and dead fall and keep planting those trees!



(,, International Energy Agency, Green House Gas Reference Network,



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