If you don’t live in the Rocky Mountain States, you may or may not be aware of a mass epidemic that has killed millions upon millions of trees from Mexico through Canada. The Mountain Pine Bark Beetle is a small beetle that is decimating the pine tree populations throughout the entire range of the Rocky Mountains.
It is very important to note that the beetle does not affect the strength or integrity of the wood – but it does kill the tree – leaving millions of acres of standing dead trees. Trees that can fuel the massive and devastating wildfires that have plagued Colorado and other western states in the past several years.
This epidemic as caused a lot of questions to be asked. Why has the outbreak been so bad? Is there a way to prevent or slow the spread? What do we do with all of this standing dead timber?
We don’t have the answers to the first two questions. A lot of people who are a lot smarter than I am are working on these big questions. But I can help a little with one of them. What can we do with all of the dead timber? Build something beautiful out of it. Thankfully there are a few lumber mills that have seen the benefit of harvesting this resource. Beetle-kill pine has some very unique color characteristics that make it desirable for cabinetry and other fine woodworking – there is an added issue though. The only wood that most craftsmen want is the heavily stained or “blued” wood – and that leaves a lot of naturally colored pine that is destined for wood chips. That is part of the reason that we have opted to color-stain our products. Not only does it make it easier for a consumer to match their décor, it also uses a portion of the wood that would otherwise be mulched.
If you want to learn more about this devastating natural phenomenon, there are some great sources out there including: