Colorado’s forests are a living graveyard where 834 million dead linger among the survivors.

Death’s growing share makes up 1 in 15 standing trees on Colorado’s 24.4 million forested acres, a testament to the lethal whirlwind of overpopulation and the forces of nature.

Death is a part of life. But not like this.

The influence of the lingering dead — the product of decades of misguided forest management — trickles down to nearly every Colorado resident. It puts the state in the crosshairs of devastating wildfire and compromises the delicate relationship between forests and the people who rely on them for clean and plentiful water.

The forests that coat Colorado’s western terrain tell a story of loss, both past and future: the High Park Fire and beetle kills, smoky skies and barren branches. But as the dead fall and the young grow stronger, these forests tell a story of hope, too.

Read more at the Coloradoan: