U.S. Forest Service officials say the mountain pine beetle epidemic in Colorado and southern Wyoming is slowing, as insects have largely depleted the large pine trees they attack.
Susan Gray is assistant director for forest health projects. She said Tuesday that a 2011 aerial survey showed about 4.6 million acres in Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota have been affected since the first signs of the outbreak in 1996, up from about 4.3 million in 2010.
The increase includes 140,000 more acres infested in Colorado, 68,000 more acres in Wyoming and about 23,000 more acres in South Dakota.
The Forest Service spent about $32 million in fiscal 2011 removing dead trees that threatened to fall along 275 miles of roads, 162 miles of trails and about 12,000 acres in the region.