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Larimer County Beetle Busters

Links to articles on the Larimer County Beetle Busters:
North Forty News
Rocky Mountain Collegian
Fort Collins Coloradoan

A few communities along the Front Range have, for some years, been successfully slowing the spread of the pine beetle and mitigating the damage that will be caused by the next wildfires.

Now Larimer County in partnership with the Colorado State Forest Service, The Colorado Forestry Association and the Larimer County Tree Farmers are providing an opportunity for all the citizens of Larimer County to do the same.

Beetle Buster volunteers go through a FREE but extensive one day training course with a professional forester to learn how to identify beetles, treat infested wood and help landowners find assistance. Busters will receive training manuals as well as hands on training in the forest.

Trained busters will then register with the Colorado State forest service. When landowner call the forest service requesting help, they will be asked if they would like a Beetle Buster crew to come out and help them at no cost. If a landowner requests a crew, the forest service will contact you to see if you are available to help.

The goal is to encourage more landowners to start actively managing their forests by providing practical and proven information AND some hands on help getting started. The program is already successful in some communities and, with your help, it can successful on a larger scale.



go to:


The following elected officials have already registered to become Larimer County Beetle Busters. They are volunteering their time and energy to personally visit you and your neighbors and help you slow the spread of the pine beetle and mitigate the damage that can be caused by wildfire.

In alphabetical order they are:

  • Sen. Bob Bacon, Dist. 14
  • County Commissioner, Tom Donnelly
  • Rep. Randy Fischer, Dist. 53
  • County Commissioner, Lew Gaiter
  • County Commissioner, Steve Johnson
  • Rep. John Kefalas, Dist. 52
  • Sen. Kevin Lundberg, Dist. 15
  • Rep. B.J. Nikkel Dist. 49

We need your leadership skills this fall too. Please join your elected representatives and make a difference.

The mountain pine beetle has successfully spread from Lodgepole to the more predominant Ponderosa Pine in many parts of Larimer County now. The growing number of dead, bone dry trees accumulating in our forests has the potential of fueling larger and more intense wildfires in the future.


Although millions of federal dollars are now flowing from Washington to help manage the beetle epidemic in federally managed forests, very little of it is available to help private landowners. Yet, according to the Larimer County Fire Plan, “Larimer County consists of 1,689,600 acres, of which 870,775 acres are privately owned.” 

The privately owned acreage is in closer proximity to Larimer County’s urban areas, so when a large, intense wildfire does start, ALL of Larimer County’s citizens will be affected. Air quality will deteriorate.  Electrical transmission lines may come down. After the fire, denuded watersheds will affect the quality of water supplies for years to come.


If these disasters occur here, we may all wish that we had done more to reduce the impact. Well, here is your opportunity.

The Larimer County Tree Farmers,
Colorado Forestry Association,
Fort Collins District of the Colorado State Forest Service, and the
Larimer County Department of Natural Resources
have formed a partnership to organize, train, and deploy the Larimer County Beetle Busters, a county-wide organization of citizen volunteers.

These volunteers will each donate a few hours of their time to help increasingly overwhelmed forest landowners identify and flag beetle infested trees on their property. They will provide an inventory of forest health issues on each property visited. They will discuss the most up-to-date and practical information available for treating infested wood, provide a list of private contractors available to help get the work done, and, perhaps most importantly, encourage landowners to start or continue their work.

You can become a hands-on leader in the effort to slow the spread of the pine beetle and mitigate the damage that will be caused by the potentially large and intense wildfires that may result.

Contact Wes Rutt, Outreach and Education Chair, Colorado tree Farmers at (970) 482-6912. Email:

Not convinced? Here are a few facts and points for discussion that may address your questions:

  • "Forest officials say ground zero of the pine beetle outbreak in Colorado now appears to be in Larimer County. According to new data released today by the US Forest Service, beetles have decimated more than 200,000 acres of forests there in the past year." see KUNC
  • We can't stop the pine beetle epidemic or prevent wildfires, but "beetle buster" groups have slowed the spread and made significant progress in mitigating the danger of wildfire in communities all along the Front Range. See Allenspark Wind and One Community's Response
  • See an amazing example of how to slow the spread of the mountain pine beetle and mitigate tha damage that can be caused by wildfire through the use of sustainable, active forest management practices: Video
  • Each pine beetle infested tree can contain as many as 1,000 or more beetles each of which lays 75 to 100 eggs.
  • The new beetles produced in each brood tree have been killing 4 or more trees the following year.
  • So, for each infested tree found, cut and treated, 4 or more healthy trees may be saved.
  • The Larimer County Beetle Busters is an attempt to scale up this already successful and proven concept so that more private forest landowners can take advantage of it.
  • Beetle Buster volunteers can help landowners identify infested trees and other forest health issues. They can answer questions and provide the most up-to-date practical information on removal, treatment and where to find help.
  • Perhaps more importantly Beetle Buster volunteers can inspire and encourage private landowners to continue their mitigation efforts even if the beetle seems to be winning because the beetle may be able to kill some of your trees but wildfire can do much more damage. see Bobcat Gulch one decade later.
  • Unlike the gulf oil spill, our environmental disater is creeping up on us, but it may be just as devasting when its full impact is felt.
  • It does no good to wait for a disaster and then blame someone else for not doing anything about it. Volunteering as a Beetle Buster is an opportunity for all citizens, both forest landowners and urban dwellers, to be proactive by helping their neighbors, as well as the whole Larimer County community, meaningfully address this very serious environmental problem.
  • There is a distinct possibility that the growing number of trees killed by the pine beetle will fuel larger and more intense wildfires in the future.
  • Due to years of fire suppression, our forests are already dense, unhealthy and prone to burn.
  • Wildfires can affect both rural and urban dwellers because they not only destroy
    •  homes,
    • wildlife,
    • and healthy trees that have survived the beetle,
they can also:
    • pollute the air for weeks at a time,
    • damage power lines in areas that are hard to reach and time consuming to repair,
    • denude watersheds removing the natural filtering system for the water weneed to live.
  • A USFS analysis of the 2002 Hayman fire determined that it cost $42 million to suppress that fire plus an additional $165 million in property loss, utility loss and rehabilitation expenses, after the fire. As expensive as it is to fight a fire, it can be only 20% of the total cost to the community in which it takes place. See: The True cost of Wildfire
  • However, the situation is far from hopeless. Forests along the Front Range have a much more diverse population of tree species and age groups than those on the Western Slope. There is therefore a much better chance that we can slow the spread of the beetle here than was possible on the western slope.
  • Reducing the fuel load in our forests by removing beetle infested and beetle killed trees plus following other sustainable forest management practices can greatly mitigate the damage and cost of the next wildfire.
  • Remember each pine beetle infested tree can contain as many as 1,000 or more beetles each of which lays 75 to 100 eggs.
  • The new beetles produced in each brood tree have been killing 4 or more trees the following year.
  • So, for each infested tree found, cut and treated, 4 or more healthy trees may be saved.
Want to learn more, help a neighbor, and be proactive in trying to avoid an environmental disaster at very little cost in time or money to yourself?   Volunteer as a Larimer County Beetle Buster. For more information see: To register as a volunteer and attend our September 25 training class from 8:30am - 3pm see:
    • email or call Jamie Dahl from this page and tell her that you would like to volunteer to become a Larimer County Beetle Buster
  • or Contact Wes Rutt, Outreach and Education Chair, Colorado tree Farmers at (970) 482-6912. Email:
  • Download and print a few copies of our Not Wanted Poster and help us attract more volunteers by distributing it to businesses where more can become aware of this program.