October 16 2009, 10:27 AM
As anyone who has driven Colorado's scenic mountain highways can attest, there are large swaths of brown amid the green forests---dead and half-dead trees, ravaged by disease or bugs, or both. Finally, the Forest Service will take action to clear some of the dead wood out. Foresters have launched a massive effort to remove hazardous trees using contract laborers---even prisoners---to do the job, according to The Denver Post. Cutting crews will use gas-powered chainsaws along trails and roads in the White River, Arapaho-Roosevelt, and Medicine Bow-Routt forests. While those efforts are focused on lodgepole pine trees hit hard by bark beetles, many of the state's aspen trees are fading because of "sudden aspen decline," or SAD, notes The New York Times, which reports foresters hope timber harvests and prescribed burns in aspen stands will help the trees regenerate. As The Colorado Independent points out, "While Colorado's fall colors don't draw the crowds New England sees, they're still a key economic driver."