Five years from now you may glance to the west above Fraser Meadows and think you are in Vail. Why? Simply because the aspen are about to take over hundreds, if not thousands of acres formally occupied by lodgepole pines.
If you have been following the pine beetle deforestation throughout Colorado you have read about the devastation it has caused. The choices are to leave it be and let nature take its course, selectively forest by removing dead trees, or clear cut the land and let nature take over.
Above the town of Winter Park the Denver Water Board has chosen the last option. This is what it looks like in back of our condo. Just a few years ago this stand of lodgepole pines was so thick that it was difficult to maneuver through them. It was a area where moose used to traverse regularly sometimes stopping to lock antlers with each other in plain view. Then came the pine beetle and it wiped out he entire grove. The moose disappeared as has most other wildlife for now. Faced with a significant fire hazard the decision was made to clear cut.
When I first saw this I was stunned. The clear cutting goes up the mountain for a couple of miles. But upon a closer look new things are happening on this land that haven’t happened in 50 years or more. Wildflowers are everywhere. Some you can even see some in the photo. Aspen shoots are already starting to come up and new lodgepole and douglas fir seedings. Given the aggressive nature of the aspens combined with their continuous root system it will not be long until the bare land is covered once again with vegetation. What will follow is fall color, the likes of which haven’t been seen in Grand County for a generation or more.
Once again the power of nature will win out.