Beetle Kill 2009: After cutting down all those trees " plant wildflowers
May 8, 2009
Middle Park Conservation District assists landowners in dealing with conserving the natural resources on their property after pine beetle kill trees have been removed. Landowners should be aware of the resources they still have even though they have lost their trees. The most basic of these is the soil. The Conservation District recommends doing whatever possible to prevent soil erosion. Removing trees can create disturbed areas and bare ground which is vulnerable to erosion. Re-vegetating these disturbed areas is one way that soil erosion can be prevented. Seeding those areas with adapted grass species and/or wildflowers can provide an attractive look and keep your soils intact.
Along with holding the soil in place, new vegetation can prevent sediment from running off into streams at lower elevations, thus protecting fisheries and irrigation water.
Another reason to re-vegetate is to control noxious weed infestation. New vegetation provides competition to any weed seeds that may germinate. Weed seeds are present in the soil everywhere and weeds are opportunistic, in that they take advantage of any disturbance and open ground that is available.
The time to plant seeds is shortly after snowmelt. The soil should be raked slightly to provide small niches for seeds to fall into, making contact with the soil. After the seeds are broadcast, a thin layer of soil should be spread over the top of the seeds so there is more soil contact. Ideally a light mulch of straw can be spread as the final layer. Seeds will not germinate without proper temperatures (approximately 50 degrees F) and moisture. Early spring is not the only time to plant seeds. They can also be planted in the summer right before monsoon rains, assuming there are some. The other time is in the fall right snowpack is established.
The District sells grass and wildflower seed each year, beginning in April. Several mixes are available to meet the needs of different projects. We have developed a “Forest Mix” with beetle kill areas in mind. It has two different clovers and eight different grass species and comes in 50 lb. bags. One bag will cover approximately five acres. Another mix is our “Short Mix.” This one has three different species and is designed for areas next to buildings or homes. The “Short Mix” is sold in 10 lb. bags and will cover approximately one acre per bag.
Many people want to reforest their property after the dead lodge pole pine trees are removed. The Conservation District runs a tree seedling sales program from November through April each year. The order deadline has already passed for spring of 2009, but we’ll start taking orders again next November.
Landowners are invited to participate in a Rural Land Stewardship workshop offered on May 16 at the CSU Extension Hall in Kremmling from 9 a.m. to noon. Topics such as soil, water, living with wildlife, plants and weeds and home energy efficiency will be discussed.
Landowners in Grand and Summit counties are invited to call our office in Kremmling at (970) 724-3456 with questions about any natural resource conservation project. We welcome walk in visitors at our office location of 106 S. Second Street in Kremmling.