The Cordillera Tree Management Program is implemented with property owner safety and forest health being paramount. The forest's health is important to keeping infestations and disease to a minimum, which also minimizes wildfires.
Any trees along CMD roadways and easements that pose safety concerns or property damage are investigated and appropriate steps taken to ensure a safe environment within the community boundaries.
This program also includes new plantings of trees throughout the community.
Mountain Pine Beetle
Bark beetles tend to be specific to certain types of trees; the pine beetle is specific to Lodgepole pine and Ponderosa pine trees. Other bark beetles active in Cordillera include the spruce beetle and the fir beetle. Beetle activity tends to move in cycles where the populations grow and shrink. Around 2000 in Canada, beetle activity exploded into an epidemic which moved south, reaching Cordillera around 2004 and peaking in 2009 and 2010. Since 2010, pine beetle activity in Cordillera had subsided and in 2013 it appeared to be at pre-epidemic levels. However, even at non-epidemic levels, beetles continue to inhabit and kill trees within Cordillera.
Douglas Fir Beetle
The Douglas fir beetle was found in old-growth trees by the Trailhead in the summer of 2017. The Colorado State Forest Service has inspected the community and collected data on the Douglas Fir Beetle. Areas that were already affected were identified and an action plan for the community was developed for 2018.
Douglas-fir beetles produce one new generation each year with some larvae and adult beetles overwintering in the bark of infested trees. They attack trees in April through June and sometimes into August.
Indication of an infested tree include:
- Small groups of dead and dying Douglas-Fir trees.
- Needles fading from green to red-brown before dropping.
- The presence of reddish-brown boring dust around the base of trees and within the cracks and crevices of the bark.
- Streaming resin along the trunk.
- Wood pecker damage.
- Exit holes.
Cordillera Open Space Mitigation
The CPOA and the CMD address pine beetle issues in community open space. Special attention is paid to areas adjacent to private property where Cordillera continues to treat healthy trees and remove infested trees.
Several large areas of open space were heavily impacted by the Mountain Pine Beetle. At the peak of the epidemic, trees were dying faster than they could be cut. In these areas, it was unrealistic for the CMD and the CPOA to spray individual trees, nor would it have been environmentally friendly. It was also unrealistic to have a meaningful impact on the epidemic by cutting individual trees; hence clear-cutting large swaths of trees was done, saving the community thousands of dollars and knocking down the epidemic in Cordillera.
Lodgepole Pine Regeneration
In 2006, Cordillera conducted the first clear cuts. Experts advised that natural re-vegetation would be noticeable in about five years. In some locations, Cordillera planted hundreds of Lodgepole saplings. Today, staff estimate that the survival rate of the planted saplings is around 25% and the number of those saplings that are actually flourishing is much less. More importantly, as predicted by experts, natural vegetation has started and is much more prolific than the trees planted by hand.
Aspen is another common species of tree in Cordillera. Aspen are interesting as they grow from roots that spread from other aspen trees and new trees are considered clones. In the fall you may notice that large groups of aspen turn gold at the same time, while others are still green. This is because the leaves of all of the trees in a clone turn at one time.
Aspen trees in Colorado are also experiencing a high level of mortality. There is not one definitive cause for this decline. Experts cite several contributing factors, including several summers of draught, rising temperatures, old age and disease. This has been labeled Sudden Aspen Decline, or SAD. When a stand of aspen begins to experience health issues, the entire stand may become affected. What is alarming about SAD is that some aspen stands that are dying show no signs of regeneration or new growth. There is no treatment for SAD.
Cordillera supports mitigation efforts for wildfire and insect infestation. Property owners are encouraged to contact Bill Wentworth, healthy forest project coordinator, to report their efforts. Removal of tree and vegetation that is not related to wildfire or forest health must be approved by the Design Review Board.