Tri-State and several of its member systems are being impacted by the bark beetle infestation that has killed millions of trees in western forests throughout Colorado and southern Wyoming. Since 1996, the pine and spruce beetle infestation has wiped out a massive footprint totaling more than 4.6 million acres of lodgepole and ponderosa pine forest in the two states. The dead trees are of particular concern to utilities as they could fall on power lines causing outages and potential fires.
Tri-State member Carbon Power & Light (Saratoga, Wyo.), is the first utility in the region to be given approval to begin cutting wider power line right-of-way corridors on U.S. Forest Service land to protect their lines. According to David Cutbirth, operations manager for the co-op, the contract loggers are expected to complete clearing 34 miles of federal land right-of-ways before the end of the year.
No Colorado co-op has seen more bark beetle devastation in its service territory than Mountain Parks Electric (Granby, Colo.) “It has wiped out nearly half the forests in our service territory,” said general manager Joe Pandy. The co-op is currently going through the approval process with the Forest Service to begin cutting the dead trees along 50 miles of power line corridors. You can read more about this potentially catastrophic situation in the upcoming spring edition of Network magazine.