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Word is the beetle infestation plaguing the pine forests of the Western Slope is likely to get far worse in the next couple of years.

Reports indicate that the mountain pine beetle has, as expected, successfully crossed the Continental Divide and is now boring through trees in Fort Collins, Boulder, Greeley, Loveland, Berthoud and Windsor.

The Boulder-based National Center for Atmospheric Research released preliminary findings indicating that by wiping out acres of forest, the beetles may alter local weather patterns, like beetle induced drought conditions.

Pine beetles burrow beneath bark to lay eggs. Larvae fan out, feasting as they mature. The following summer, they take flight from trees rendered a dead orange to seek new victims. Beetles claimed 500,000 new acres of trees in 2007, according to the annual aerial survey of Colorado’s forests, making the total kill 1.5 million acres.

It seems the mountain pine beetle is flapping its wings and creating its own hurricane.

-Cara

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