Austin Dyekman

Growing up I always loved and cared for the mountains. By no means am I a hippie that is all about “Mother Earth,” however I did always enjoy the family camping trip and still love getting outside when I get the chance.  Through my childhood and as I’ve become a young adult, I have always camped in the same part of Theodore Roosevelt National Forest. This national forest can be found about 80 miles southwest of Laramie, Wyoming  right on the Wyoming Colorado border. Growing up my family would take day long trips on our dirt bikes and ATVs cruising around on endless trails through the woods. On these camping trips it was always the duty of my brother and I to round up wood to build a substantial fire that would last until we went to sleep. On these wood hunts we quickly came to the realization that the red pine branches were the best fire starters: wooden gasoline is what we referred to these branches as. Once we found a tree that was full of them, literally the entire tree was one gigantic piece of wooden gasoline. This was, unbeknownst to me, my first experience of the pine beetle. Now, as a student at CSU, I have become ever more aware of the pine beetle’s devastating effect not only on our home front in Colorado but all along the Rocky Mountains. As of last year, when I returned to this very same location it is easier to find a red tree than it is a green tree.  Not only are the beetles ruining my favorite spots to camp, but this winter when I drove up I-70 to hit the slopes everywhere I look I see more and more red trees. When the opportunity rose for me to advocate the pine beetle and to analyze what may or may not happen with this annoying little insect, I simply could not pass up the opportunity.

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