An ongoing battle with bark beetles in Rocky Mountain National Park is set to resume in April, when crews will begin spraying an insecticide on as many as 5,000 "high-value" trees.
The battle against the beetles has been going on for several years. Last fall park officials declared that the beetle outbreak was at "outbreak levels throughout the park. The park's priorities for mitigation of the effects of beetles are focused on removing hazard trees and hazard fuels related to the protection of life and property.
This year park crews will resume spraying, removing hazard trees, prescribed burns, pheromone treatments, and implementing temporary closures in a variety of park locations.
Starting in early April and ending by Memorial Day weekend, park crews plan to apply a Carbaryl-based insecticide to up to 5,000 high-value trees to protect them from bark beetles.
Treatment will occur in the following developed areas of the park: Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and Headquarters, Moraine Park Visitor Center, Kawuneeche Visitor Center, Aspenglen, Moraine Park, and Glacier Basin Campgrounds, Sprague Lake Picnic Area, Bighorn Ranger Station, McGraw Ranch, Holzwarth Historic Site, Leiffer Cabin, Kaley Cottages, Lumpy Ridge Trailhead, and the east and west side park service housing areas.
Last year, almost 5,000 trees were treated and nearly all of these trees were not attacked by bark beetles, according to a park release.
This spring the total number of treated trees will be between 4,000 and 5,000, depending on site conditions. Insecticide will be applied to individual trees to repel beetle attacks. The Longs Peak Campground will remain chemical free for this year.
The park is also treating up to 300 high value limber pine trees with verbenone pheromone packets to minimize infestation from bark beetles. Limber pine trees in the park are currently at risk of mountain pine beetle infestation and infection from white pine blister rust. Research is being conducted to identify if any limber pine trees within the park are resistant to white pine blister rust.
Park staff and contracted resources will conduct hazard tree mitigation through tree removal throughout the year.
Planned project sites include: Sprague Lake Trail, the Wild Basin Area, Old Fall River Road, Coyote Valley Trail and Trailhead, Shadow Mountain Lookout, Holzwarth Historic Site, and Timber Lake Trailhead.
Smaller scale, selective hazard tree removals should be anticipated at trailheads, parking areas, picnic areas, roadside pullouts, campgrounds and visitor centers. Temporary site closures can be expected at smaller sites to facilitate safe and efficient project completion.