GUEST COMMENTARY | Take Action Now to Protect Your Fir Trees
by Barbara Uhles
Oct 01, 2013 | 951 views | 0 0 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Those in the Ouray area who attended the ”Tree Health Outreach Session” on Thursday night were provided information on how to recognize the types of trees on their property. This is the initial step in knowing whether or not a landowner needs to take any action to guard against their trees becoming infested with the fir beetle.

If you were unable to attend, it’s still possible to get detailed descriptions and photographs of those trees that need some level of protection from the two varieties of beetles that have infested some of the firs surrounding Ouray.

The costs of protection for the individual landowner, as discussed at the Outreach Session, is insignificant compared to the possibility of having to remove dead trees and then replacing them. Cutting trees and removing stumps and roots is not an easy and inexpensive task. The City of Ouray and group of concerned citizens will be doing everything in their power to prevent this from being necessary in Ouray. For those that have already lost trees, the Ouray Beautification Committee will be taking orders for and then ordering a variety of trees for planting in the spring. It is their hope to initiate the plantings of a more varied species of trees so that the future loss of the fir will be less significant.

If you have Douglas fir on your property, the most it could cost would be $8 per tree, applying MCH bubble packs which emit a pheromone that discourages an attack by the Douglas fir beetle. These would be applied annually and have a 95 percent effective rate.

If you have white fir on your property, an annual spraying of the trees can cost between $30 and $90 per tree, depending on accessibility and size of the tree or trees.

Although the Forest Service is currently conducting an analysis to address current and expected insect infestations in spruce forests, the spruce tree is currently somewhat less at risk in our area than the firs. If you have spruce on your property and want to make sure it is protected, consider using the MCH bubble packs that you would use on Douglas fir. 

No matter what types of trees you have on your property, arborists explain that the most important strategy for keeping your trees healthy and able to repel any beetle attack is to water them thoroughly during the spring and summer months; that is weekly deep watering throughout the tree canopy rather than more frequent shallow watering. The preferred method for knowing when to water is to dig a small hole about 10” deep on either side of the tree canopy and when that is dry, it’s time to water. Once you have done this a few times, you will have a better idea about how frequently a particular tree needs this deep watering.

More detailed information on tree descriptions and protection solutions can be obtained by contacting Ann Morgenthaler, City of Ouray, Community Development Coordinator, either by telephone at 907/325-7087 or email at All protective applications are applied starting in April and spraying can be done throughout the following few months when the various beetle species start their search for new host trees.

Although April may seem a long way off, the Douglas fir bubble packs have to be ordered ahead of time so there will be enough available locally for those who need them. Please ask Ann for the form to fill out with the number of bubble packs needed for your use to Ann, along with  a check for payment, at the City of Ouray by December 31.  Anybody ordering after that time may have to go to the resource independently and not be able to take advantage of the volume discount. 

Residents with white fir who will want to spray their trees in the Spring, it is important that you contact Linda Corwine, Montrose Landscape Consulting and Spraying, by email at or call her at 970/249-2659 and leave a message for a return call.

Getting in touch with her early will help her to know how many to anticipate in the spring and, as you can imagine, she will be very busy.

It would be heart-wrenching to see Ouray without our majestic fir trees. Do what needs to be done to protect the trees on your property.


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