As if drought and fire aren’t bad enough, Cascadia’s eastern forests are beset by yet a third plague: bark beetle infestations.
Similar to the scourge of British Columbia’s interior forests, the mountain pine beetle, the bark beetles are poised to take America by storm. Higher than normal temperatures have led to beetle proliferation—they’re reproducing twice as fast as they used to. The beetles can kill millions of trees, leaving behind standing dead timber that is vulnerable to fire.
And forest fires are particularly likely this year, the fifth year of an epic drought across the West. The one-two punch of fire and insects leads some researchers to predict radical changes to forest ecosystems in the Rockies.