The most abundant of all Western pine falls at astounding rate-
Every Western pine from the Yukon to New Mexico is suffering high mortality from unusually severe attack by native insects, diseases and direct mortality from drought and heat. Lodgepole pine, which often grows in vast almost monocultural stands, is dying too. Almost anyone who lives in the West knows this. In many places the beauty of the forest has been greatly marred for many miles.
Climate Change Takes Toll on the Lodgepole Pine. By John Collins Rudolf. New York Times.
When lodgepole pine dies, the needles first turn red for a year before they fall off. While red, they burn with remarkable explosive force. After they are dead, however, lodgepole and other dead conifers do not burn as fiercely as a green forest. A common misconception is that they do, a mistake this New York Times article perpetuates. Lodgepole are shallow rooted. When dead they are easily blown over in windstorms. If they pile up in large “jackstrawed” heaps, these can burn very hot. Miles of downed lodgepole also form barriers to wildlife migration.
I took this photo of red lodgepole pine near Stanley, Idaho about 5 years ago. Since then, they have almost all died and many fallen over or cut down. They didn’t burn.