Spruce Beetles a growing problem atop the Mesa

MESA COUNTY, Colo. A new trend lurking on The Grand Mesa could mean intense and rapidly spreading wildfires in the near future.

Beetle kill in Colorado significantly increases the intensity and spread of burns during fire season, and now the Grand Mesa is facing an infestation.

The beetles aren't the only problem though, recent droughts and so-called 'blowdowns' are also to blame for the growing chance of fast-moving fires.

"A blowdown is like when a strong wind event," says US Forest Service spokesperson, Lee Ann Loupe. "Not necessarily a hurricane but a pretty significant storm that will come through and it will blow down large stands of trees."

They create an abundance of standing, dead fuel, making it easy for the fires to travel and grow.

But forest service rangers say, fortunately, it won't increase the number of fires.

"We're still going to have the same number of human caused and lightning caused starts," says Grand Valley Forest Service Ranger, Bill Edwards. "Spruce beetle doesn't affect that."

And although the results are potentially devastating, they're a normal part of the spruce tree's life cycle.


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