DENVER – Mountain pine beetles have left vast tracts of dead, dry trees in the West, raising fears that they're more vulnerable to wildfire outbreaks, but a new study found no evidence that bug-infested forests are more likely to burn than healthy ones.
In a paper released Monday, University of Colorado researchers say weather and terrain are bigger factors in determining whether a forest will burn than beetle invasions.
The findings could provide some comfort to people who live near beetle-infested forests, if those trees are no more likely to burn.
But the study acknowledges that other researchers have found that trees killed by beetles pose different fire risks.
Previous studies by the U.S. Forest Service found beetle-killed trees ignite faster and burn more quickly than healthy trees.