Spruce Beetle Epidemic & Aspen Decline Management Response (SBEADMR)


The Spruce Beetle Epidemic & Aspen Decline Management Response team strives to understand what effect management styles have upon land affected by spruce beetles. CFRI supports the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station and the Sibold Biogeography Lab at CSU in producing science-based information that aids the Grand Mesa, Uncompaghre, and Gunnison National Forests in implementing adaptive management strategies in beetle impacted spruce-fir forests. The goals of this project are to gain a better understanding of spruce and aspen regeneration dynamics following disturbances such as spruce beetle outbreaks, aspen decline, harvesting, and wildfire.


In the past decade, spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) outbreaks and sudden aspen decline (SAD) have caused extensive tree mortality in the Grand Mesa, Uncompaghre, and Gunnison National Forests. Beetle and insect outbreaks are part of natural disturbance cycles, but drought and unusually warm temperatures may have heightened their effect and tree mortality is expected to continue into the future. The U.S. Forest Service has proposed to treat a maximum of 120,000 acres to reduce public safety threats, re-establish desired forest conditions, and enhance the resiliency of at-risk forest stands.


CFRI works collaboratively with Dr. Mike Battaglia of the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station and the Sibold Biogeography lab at CSU to implement field monitoring efforts across the National Forests.  Additionally, CFRI is actively involved on the collaboration’s established Science Team that leads efforts to disseminate results and guide the adaptive management process across these affected forests.


Permanent monitoring plots were initially installed in areas of the forest that were slated for salvage logging by the U.S. Forest Service.  Pre-treatment monitoring was conducted in 2015 and 2016, and post-treatment monitoring is ongoing.  Monitoring pre- and post-treatment areas intends to inform proposed projects, but results to inform adaptive management strategies will take time, and changes in forest structure may not necessarily be attributable to forest management activities.


After a few years of continuous monitoring, the science team has some preliminary results, though patterns and trends will become clearer with continued monitoring. First, overstory mortality is very high in forest stands, and salvage logging reduces the number of live trees in a stand. Aspen survival is very high across stands, while spruce survival rates are lower in salvaged stands. Regeneration is abundant, and highest in the areas that had been managed before the beetle outbreak. Unsurprisingly, snowshoe hare (a prime prey source for the Canada lynx) abundance appears to be lowest in salvaged areas and highest in areas that haven’t been logged. Snowshoe hares prefer dense cover, which is most prevalent in unlogged sites.


SBEADMR was designed to allow a more nimble “adaptive management” response to rapidly changing forest conditions than is typically allowed under the USFS planning process. While conventional planning process for forest use can take years to complete, SBEADMR uses a more flexible approach that allows the USFS to designate large swaths of land as priority treatment areas, and then zero in on specific stands each year based on current conditions. This novel approach, however, generated concerns from local stakeholders who thought SBEADMR lacked specificity about the proposed projects and the areas that would be treated.

Stakeholders wanted science driven management decisions, and had concerns about the impacts of temporary logging roads, disruption to recreational users, impacts on wildlife and lack of public input on specific projects. To address these concerns the USFS funded an independent science advisory team to inform treatment decisions, and established the SBEADMR Adaptive Management Group (AMG).

The AMG, originally convened by the Public Lands Partnership, is a citizen-based working group composed of individuals representing a broad diversity of local and regional interests and perspectives. Members include county commissioners, timber industry representatives, conservation groups, water resources, recreation, wildlife, education, and at-large community members. The AMG serves in an advisory role to assist the GMUG with the implementation and monitoring of SBEADMR projects.

April 6, 2017

June 22, 2017

January 4, 2018




In accordance with Appendix E of the SBEADMR FEIS, each year the public and interested stakeholders are invited to interact with GMUG staff and Science Team members on a SBEADMR implementation field trip. The annual field trip is scheduled during late July/early August. The field trip focuses on pre-treatment areas; however post-treatment and monitoring activities may be viewed on the same field trip.

The subtabs below contain the agenda, field notes and other pertinent information for each field trip for the given year.

2016: Willow Mesa, La Garita and Pauline Salvage Projects

2017: High Mesa, Overland Reservoir and Hubbard Park

2018: Interdisciplinary Team Review Field Trip Cathedral Peak

2018: Alpine Plateau

2019: Big Park Salvage Project

2020: Bald Timber Sale

Working Group Documents

Working Group Relation to SBEADMR

SBEADMR Working Group Ground Rules

Meeting History

October 9, 2014

October 30, 2014

November 12, 2014

December 11, 2014

December 18, 2014

January 8, 2015

January 22, 2015

February 19, 2015

March 12, 2015

July 23, 2015

September 17, 2015

October 29, 2015

Pre-Decisional Civic Learning

Forest Product Companies & SBEADMR

Lynx and Silviculture Matrix

SBEADMR Project overview

Watershed and Wildfire Risks

Watershed Science and Runoff

Economic Use of Beetle Kill

Post Fire Logging and Salvage

Kevin Barrett