Pine beetle epidemic fueling fall colors

9NEWS at 4 p.m. 9/21/16.

SUMMIT COUNTY - Angel Oberriter and Sherie Sobke with Alpine Gardens are wrapping up the summer planting season.

It’s a sure sign the fall season has arrived, bringing with it a saturated landscape of yellow and red.

“Summit County is alive,” Oberriter said. “It glows [and] I’m really digging on the reds this year.”

It’s already an impressive time of year, but this fall many are saying the colors are as bold and as bright as ever.

At the U.S. Forest Service Dillion Ranger District in Silverthorne, Adam Bianchi just started as the Deputy District Ranger and his timing couldn’t have been better.

“It’s my first fall in Colorado and I am impressed with the colors,” Bianchi said.

This summer may have been a bummer with all the rain but Bianchi says it’s had a brilliant benefit, letting aspen trees produce loads of sugar which gives them a brighter color.

Add all that bright color to all the new trees showing up around Summit County and things really start to pop, in part thanks to the mountain pine beetle.

For years the mountain pine beetle wiped out nearly all the lodgepole pine trees in Summit County but that also opened up opportunities to aspen trees. Places where lodgepole pine trees died or were cut down for fire mitigation now have aspen trees taking over.

“Aspen is an early successional species as the trees are falling down,” Bianchi said. “It’s creating light on the forest floor and it’s enhancing a lot of the aspen.” 

So until the snow starts falling or winds start blowing, this fall should offer a lot more of that amazing color.

“It’s electric when the sun comes,” Oberriter said.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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