A threat grows, tree by tree | VailDaily.com

A threat grows, tree by tree

Don Rogers

Some wags at the paper talked the other day about trends that offer threats and opportunities for our community and business.The usual suspects arose: growth, housing and living costs, economic factors that influence visitors and second-home buyers, and snow – always snow.This time, though, along with pondering the cost of fuel and value of the dollar compared to other currencies, an insect leaped to mind.This little bugger, the size of an eraser at the end of a No. 2 pencil, is laying waste to millions of acres of forest in the United States and Canada.Eagle County has not escaped, as a drive past, say, Vail, reveals. Imagine the ratio of dead trees rising toward 80 percent, as projected. That is four out of five, eight out of 10, a forest spotted with green in a sea of red and brown.Bark beetles might well be the Vail Valley’s biggest threat. Unless you want to count fuel for a biomass plant or drop in property values, there’s not a lot in the “opportunity” side of this equation. The probability of catastrophic wildfire should be enough to motivate aggressive action. But fire or not, imagine the appeal of everdead forests, and what that does to our economy.n n nThe words “union pacific” appeared by accident in Wednesday’s Quick Takes. An errant pasting of the words during the editing process created the random placement of the words. Vail, Colorado

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