Climate Change threatens Rocky Mountain Forests in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana

Climate Change threatens Rocky Mountain Forests in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana

National forests and parks play a key role in the economies of Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. National parks in these states, including Yellowstone and Glacier, host about 11 million visitors annually, generating $1 billion in tourist spending.

A new study by the scientists based on the projections made by the U. S. Forest Service revealed that the iconic pine and aspen forests of the Rocky Mountains are at risk.

The environmental groups blame climate change driven by human emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, which has hit forests with droughts, higher temperatures, intensifying fire and insect infestations. If this rate continued to destroy and decline the tree species in the upcoming years, there would no longer be signs of any Rocky Mountain forests in future.

The trees grow depending on how cold the winters get and how warm the summers are. The trees will not grow if climate change alters those levels. Therefore, it has become very critical to keep a check on climate change.

Stephen Saunders, report co-author and president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization the U. S. Forest Service, made projections of future climactic suitability for three tree species - Quaking aspens, Whitebark pines and Piñon pines.

For aspens, the Rockies' only widespread tree species, an overall decline of 61% is predicted by the year 2060. There will be 71% decline of tress in Montana, and a 41% in Colorado. The nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientist also warned that climate change can kill 90% of lodgepole pine, 80% of ponderosa pine, Engelmann spruce by about 66% and 58% for Douglas that cover the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Montana.

Saunders said, "So far, we have had relatively modest climate changes, but they have already jolted our forests. If we continue changing the climate, we may bring about much more fundamental disruption of these treasured national landscapes".

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