Forest Health & Fire Mitigation

Our forests are a valuable resource for Mountain Village. Our planning department is responsible for reviewing all proposed development within town limits to ensure compliance with all fire mitigation and forest health requirements. 

All new construction of homes and other habitable spaces, additions that increase habitable space with a valuation of $50,000 or greater and any alteration of landscaping costing more than $50,000 require a fire mitigation defensible space plan by the property owner.

We also encourage and provide incentives for all developed lots in Mountain Village to evaluate forest health/wildfire risk and voluntarily implement a defensible space plan. Our forester is available for a free consultation on forest health, defensible space, hazard trees and forest management.

Trees & Insects

Bark Beetle

These insects are best known as the species that reproduces and lives in the inner bark of trees. In this alpine environment, various species of bark beetles pose a threat to our Douglas-firs, spruce and sub alpine fir tree populations. Unlike the Western tent caterpillar and spruce budworm, bark beetles attack the vascular systems of trees, crucial conduits through which water and nutrients flow. In addition, these notorious pests carry disease organisms that further affect the tree. Although bark beetles are usually attracted to trees already weakened by drought and stress, they can attack and kill healthy trees. Once a tree shows signs of bark beetle infestation, it is usually too late to do anything to save the tree.

Sudden Aspen Decline

There are a number of areas, especially along Mountain Village Boulevard, showing signs of sudden aspen decline. No one knows for sure what causes this, but the main culprit seems to the drought of 2000 to 2005. Further, secondary agents, such as various insects and diseases that normally do not kill trees, may now be causing tree mortality. To combat this problem, we have removed dead and dying aspens on Mountain Village open space in the hope that we can stimulate regeneration before the root systems die.

Western Spruce Budworm

Classified as the most widely distributed and destructive forest defoliator in the West, the western spruce budworm prefers to infest Douglas fir and white fir, and occasionally will attack different species of spruce if their other food sources are depleted. We first detected budworms in Mountain Village during the summer of 2008. Since then, the infestation has spread throughout the region. Budworms can eat all the new growth produced by host trees, and in turn, this defoliation immediately affects the trees’ growth. This may mean a loss of aesthetic value as the branch tips turn brown and die. Additionally, twigs, branches or entire tops of trees may be killed by this insect. Although trees may survive a few years of an outbreak without mortality, they become more susceptible to disease and insect infestation, especially bark beetle.

Complete control of western spruce budworm is not possible, desirable or necessary. This insect has many natural enemies that help control populations, including parasitic wasps and flies as well as predators like birds and spiders. Outbreak severity can be reduced over the long term by forest management practices that favor young, vigorous, even-aged stands. Thinning to reduce stand density can also help reduce outbreak severity.

For the homeowner who has high-value trees on their property, there are a few things that can be done. Decreasing competition around prized trees, watering around the drip line (out at the edge of the canopy), and the use of insecticides can all help maintain tree vigor. Registered insecticides for control of western spruce budworm are Bacillus thuringiensis, Sevin, Dursban and Tempo 2. Insecticides should be applied in the spring just as buds begin to open; exact timing depends on temperature and elevation.