Greenies Fight to Keep Beetle-Ravaged Trees

Environmentalists, bureaucracy slow Forest Service efforts
By Sam Biddle,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2009 6:31 PM CST
The bough of a pine tree destroyed by pine beetles is shown amid the fall colors of trees near Keystone, Colo., on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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(Newser) – A massive swath of trees from Colorado to British Columbia is being ravaged by beetles that burrow beneath bark to lay eggs. But the real ecological battle is being fought not over how to protect the trees, but how to treat them once they’re dead. The Christian Science Monitor examines the debate among conservationists, lumber interests, and federal bureaucracy.

“There’s an overabundance of [dead] material out there that could be removed and done in a very benign way,” says one park ranger who supports selling the trees for lumber. But such extraction is being held up by environmental groups who contend the dead trees play a vital role in the forest ecosystem, providing habitats for a multitude of animals.