State Forester: Beetles play role in fires

Laramie, WY – While a new report says beetle-killed trees are not related to higher fire risk the state forester says they still can have a negative impact. Bill Crapser says beetle-killed trees can cause unpredictable fires especially after a few years,
"In ten, 12 years as those forests start to fall down and we get high concentrations of downfall on the ground. Then we see an increase in fire potential and erratic fire behavior. And that's when we see the potential of a lot of fires with hot intensity ground fires that actually harm the soil and change things in the watershed."
For this reason, Crapser supports management efforts to try to remove beetle-killed trees in Wyoming forests. Still, he says a mix of managed and unmanaged areas within forests is also a good idea. Wyoming will be using federal stimulus funds to remove beetle-killed trees this year. A recent study suggested that the money would be better spent on fighting fires that are advancing on communities or subdivisions.