A new study suggests that, despite popular opinion, bark beetles do NOT play a major role in large-scale wildfires in Colorado and other western regions. From Rocky Mountain Community Radio sister station KUNC, Erin O’Toole reports.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The study, published this week in Natural Areas Journal says past and current research shows that mountain pine beetle infestations don’t actually boost the risk of intense, fast-moving blazes. Barry Noon is a professor of wildlife ecology at Colorado State University, and a coauthor of the study.

“In a way that sounds a bit counterintuitive; admittedly dead needles have greater potential for ignition – by lightning, let’s say – than green needles. But the dead needles remain on the trees typically for about two to three years. And the ignition potential only remains high as long as the dead needles are on the trees. Once they fall off, the ignition potential is actually quite low.”

Noon says the real driving force behind last year’s intense wildfires is drought — fueled by climate change. Because of that, he says efforts to remove beetle-killed trees may reduce the risk of small wildfires, but will do little or nothing to control the catastrophic fires that devastated Colorado forests last year.

 

Comments are closed.

News

October 21, 2017 | NPR · A law in California took effect preventing companies from requiring job applicants to disclose criminal histories. NPR’s Lakshmi Singh talks with National Employment Law Project attorney Beth Avery.
 

October 21, 2017 | NPR · NPR’s Lakshmi Singh talks with Mary Kate Cary, former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush; Sarah Westwood of the Washington Examiner; and Danielle Belton, editor-in-chief of The Root.
 

October 21, 2017 | NPR · Spain’s prime minister says he’s firing the Catalan regional government and forcing elections in six months. Separatists flood Barcelona’s streets in protest.
 

Arts & Life

October 21, 2017 | NPR · Te Ata is about the true story of Mary Thompson Fisher, a Chickasaw storyteller who was born and raised in the Chickasaw Nation. She became one of the greatest Native American performers ever.
 

AP
October 21, 2017 | NPR · The Hall of Fame defensive tackle turned Minnesota Supreme Court Justice answers three questions about the Scandinavian peoples of 1,000 years ago.
 

Courtesy of Amy Tan
October 21, 2017 | FA · Tan discusses her experiences with family and fate. Maureen Corrigan reviews Kate Winkler Dawson’s book about London’s Great Smog of 1952. Baumbach’s new film mixes comedy with deep emotional pain.
 

Music

Courtesy of the artist
October 20, 2017 | NPR · On Beck’s latest, thrift-store sounds, abrasive noise and his father’s ear-stretching orchestrations all vie for attention at once.
 

WireImage
October 20, 2017 | NPR · Their overnight surprise mixtape release comes with an honorable mention for one of Atlanta’s instrumental sonic architects.
 

Courtesy of the artist
October 20, 2017 | WXPN-FM · This year marks the 30th anniversary of her album Solitude Standing, and the 25th of 99.9F°.
 

Get the KRCC iPhone App

The Writer's Almanac

Radiolab