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Students sign up to bring Pingree trees back to life

August 5, 2009

The increasing number of dying trees due to mountain pine beetle infestation is astonishing. A new reforestation program, started in the fall of 2008, has been managing the mountain pine beetle infestation and diversifying the Pingree Park forest.

Mountain pine beetle epidemic

In the fall of 2008, Pingree Park started collaborating with the Colorado State Forest Service to deal with the mountain pine beetles and the increasing number of dying and decaying trees.

As the mountain pine beetles move through the Pingree valley, they infest and kill most of the mature pines in the area. The seedling planting program will replace the dead trees that have been cut down and removed with new ponderosa seedlings.

First attempt

The first batch of tree removal started last fall and will continue as time and finances allow. Many trees are located near buildings and power lines that will need to be removed piece-by-piece –- a long and expensive process. After a group of trees have been removed, the seedling process will begin. A batch of 250 seedlings can be planted by a group within a couple of hours.

“This is our first attempt to plant and care for the seedlings at Pingree. It is a fairly harsh site for small trees so we are expecting that many will not make it through the winter. This is why we are planting more than are needed for the area. Each spring we will take an inventory and plant accordingly,” says Robert Sturtevant, a senior research associate with the Colorado State Forest Service.

Students integral to program

Students from the Warner College of Natural Resources enrolled in Natural Resources Ecology & Measurements (NR220), a four-week field session in Pingree Park, will help in transplanting ponderosa pine seedlings.

“We have different student groups handling the various parts of the project. Some are cutting and removing the trees. Others helped with growing the seedlings, others planted the trees, and still others will be watering them this summer,” says Sturtevant.

Getting a helping hand

Aside from CSU faculty and students, many residents from the surrounding communities in Colorado have helped in caring for the newly planted seedlings, including classes from the Poudre R-1 school district.

“Fifth graders are coming to Pingree in the fall for Environmental Science and Adventure camp. They’ve been water and caring for the seedlings in the spring. This project involved a lot of folks,” says Pat Rastall, director of Pingree Park.

The program will run for the next few years, with tree removals in the fall and seedling planting in the spring.

Contact: Anh Ha
Phone: (970) 491-4161