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American Forests Conservation Spotlight: Spruce Beetle Epidemic in Colorado
Posted on April 15, 2016

Uncompahgre National Forest covers 955,229 acres and is a popular recreation destination. Photo: Indabelle

Earth Day is one of our favorite holidays. The celebration of the birthday of the modern conservation movement reminds us how important the mountains, rivers, lakes and streams are to our life and to our industry. The wild lands of our environment provide our playgrounds, our inspiration, our refuge and form the basis for our entire outdoor industry. Without these places, we’d be a bit lost.

But this holiday also reminds us to give back, both personally and as a brand. In honor of Earth Day next Friday, we are featuring another of the 2016 reforestation projects backed and funded by our longstanding 20-year-plus partnership with American Forests. Later this week we will dive into the conservation motivation of our philanthropic ambassador Ryan Reynolds in a three-part interview series, who sees the woods the same way we do—as a refuge and a reset.

But for today, our specific focus  is on the Spruce Beetle Restoration Project in Colorado, an epidemic that we explored in our interview with Jami Westerhold of American Forests last year. It’s a much-needed reforestation effort to combat a modern ecological crisis in the mountains of the American West. Our forests in could use the awareness and the support. We owe it to them.

—LYA Editor

Spruce beetle devastation along Highway 149. Photo: USDA Forest Service

Spruce Beetle Colorado Restoration Project

Words courtesy of American Forests

American Forests is working with local partners to plant 25,000 Engelmann spruce across nearly 450 acres in three national forests in Colorado. The project is helping reforest an area in Colorado’s Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests that has been affected by a severe spruce beetle epidemic.

Since 2010, the spruce beetle epidemic has killed nearly 100 percent of spruce trees greater than 3 inches in diameter in southwestern and south-central Colorado. There has been growing concern from local communities and governments regarding the potential for large-scale wildfires. In 2013, the West Fork Fire Complex severely burned over 100,000 acres of stands of dead spruce trees approximately 15 miles south of the proposed planting area.

 

Highway 149, also known as the Silver Thread Scenic Byway, meanders through dense stands of spruce trees. This area was once dubbed the “green tunnel” because of the towering spruce trees that grow relatively close to the highway. The beetle outbreak and its effects have now created a “brown tunnel” that mars the landscape.

The scenic byway corridor is designated as a linkage zone for the Canada Lynx, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act whose habitat has been severely degraded by the spruce beetle epidemic. The region is also an important recreation area. The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, which is shared with the Colorado Trail, is approximately five miles south of the project site. The area is frequented by winter recreationists, as the scenic byway corridor is paralleled by a very popular snowmobile trail.

Since partnering with the national nonprofit conservation organization 20 years ago, Eddie Bauer has helped plant more than 6.5 million trees. With the launch of The One Tree Initiative, Eddie Bauer pledges its continued support of American Forests’ mission to protect, restore and conserve threatened forest. Donate to the cause at AmericanForests.org.

 

 

Author: - Friday, April 15th, 2016
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