If you live in a forested area of the American West, you know well of the devastation wreaked by the mountain pine beetle. No bigger than your fingertip, the beetle attacks ponderosa, Scotch and lodgepole pines injecting a fungus which prevents the tree from protecting itself with sap or flow. The fungus and the beetles' larvae overtake the tree, quickly killing it within a matter of weeks.
The dead trees pose an incredible hazard as seen in the many headline-making forest fires Colorado experienced this past summer. Currently, the best management techniques are selective felling and burning to contain the infested areas.
In an effort to minimize the ecological impact of the damaged trees, local artisans have turned this natural disaster into a creative opportunity. The stain left behind by the fungus ranges in color from bright blue to soft gray.
The blue and gray shades can appear as striations or marble-like markings.
Though the timber's appearance has changed, it remains structurally stable and can be crafted into flooring, siding, cabinets and furniture. The wood poses no health risk since the beetles and their larvae are long gone.
It is predicted the beetle will destroy every lodgepole pine in the state of Colorado, if not the entire West. In the coming years, we will have enormous quantities of this beautiful material at our disposal.
I will be doing my part by installing pine beetle wood cabinets in my (soon to be) Big Rock Candy Mountain house.
What do you say, Dumplings, can this Coloradan convince you to embrace azure wood?