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Hikers and bikers report dead trees in popular Colorado Springs open space

Posted at 6:56 PM, Sep 18, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — Hikers and bikers in the popular Colorado Springs open space, North Cheyenne Canon Park are wondering about all the dead trees.

“About a month and a half ago, we received a call from a concerned citizen about Tussock Moth issues,” said Colorado Springs City Forester, Dennis Will.

Five years back, Douglas Fir trees in the park were being devastated by a Tussock Moth infestation.

The larvae of the moth kill trees as they eat all the needles.

“That population has the propensity to rise at high levels and then crash right away, which is what it did in 15, and 16, and 17,” said Will.

Most of the current grey, barren trees in the canyon are from that time.

It was so bad the city collaborated with the U.S. Forest Service and other nearby landowners to contract a helicopter to fly over with insecticide.

Will said, “It was a great partnership, it did what it was supposed to do. It protected the aesthetics of the canyon, and of the watershed itself, the health of the trees.”

Now some park visitors have noticed more trees dying.

There is a small number of trees having needles eaten away by another insect called a budworm.

Then there are dying trees with needles turning brown.

Those are trees that were stressed during the drought and then attacked by bark beetles.

“We should always be seeing that but we need to know that what we're seeing is normal levels,” said Will.

The presence of some invasive insects is part of the natural cycle.

Sometimes numbers are high and sometimes low.

Hikers are not mistaken that some trees are dying.

The rate is considered manageable and part of the natural cycle.
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