vagabonding across the 39th parallel found us descending from the high country of Rocky Mountain National Park on the west side of the Continental Divide. We were looking at views down the long Kawuneeche Valley and the Never Summer Range beyond. There is something special about the Kawuneeche: it is the headwaters of the one of the nation's most important rivers, the Colorado.
We were distracted by the green meadows and high water, but it slowly began to dawn on us that something was very wrong with the forests.
physical hazard to homeowners and tourists. The dead snags can topple at any time. Without the root systems, slopes are destabilized and mudslides become a serious hazard. There are a few efforts underway to make use of the dead wood, including energy production and building.
We had been wondering why lots of campsites were available at Timber Creek Campground, when our previous campsites on the east side of the park had been completely filled. The reason was obvious when we pulled in: every tree in the campground had been cut down. There wasn't a bit of shade anywhere. We drove on for another hundred miles and nearly every slope was brown. It was a sad sight.
The forests will grow back, but if the beetles are not controlled in some way, the lodgepole pines will be attacked when they get to a diameter of about five inches. Kind of an uncertain future, and not a good thing for the people in the region who depend on tourism.