Key Summaries: Saving Lodgepole Pine Trees

Saving Lodgepole Pine Trees in the wake of a wave of Pine Bark Beetles.

How it Started

In September of 2007, as luck would have it, Dr. Jim Conroy and I decided in the last minute to have a table at a nearby convention in New Jersey for people who do Feng Shui.  

This was in 2007. We look different now: better hair, better signs, better materials. ;-)

And as luck would have it again, Marie Hedrick from Fraser, Colorado, decided to make the trip to New Jersey to attend the convention.  When she saw our booth, she said that she knew we could help the Lodgepole Pine trees all over Colorado that were turning red and dying.  

Basia and I agreed to make the trip and see if we could help.  That turned into the beginning of one nine year research project which ended successfully, then another open-ended project still going on now.  

November, 2007.

Granby, CO, mountainside.

Trees were already red from beetle activity.

The Pine Bark Beetle was getting the blame for killing millions and millions of trees.  In fact, there was a “wave” of this kind of tree-death already progressing to the south from Canada and states to the north of Colorado.  

But it was only the most recent in a series of problems for the Lodgepole Pine trees.  

  • In 2007, the area was in its 9th year of drought.  Local weather patterns were shifting as the overall climate of earth was heating up.  Those years were among the hottest on record up to that point in time.  So the Lodgepole Pine trees were stressed from heat and drought.
  • The forests in Colorado are natural mono-cultures.  In other words, 60% to 80% of the trees in some areas are Lodgepole Pines.  The only other major tree species was the deciduous trees: Aspens. (And they were beginning to suffer from a blight of unknown origin.)
  • And with the combination of mono-culture with decades of fire suppression—which had been the official policy in the state for decades—the Lodgepole Pines were highly overcrowded. Overcrowding adds more stress to trees.

Therefore, Lodgepole Pine trees in forests and on peoples’ properties in all of Colorado were stressed or already not functioning in healthy ways—in other words, sick or weak.  Pine Bark Beetles already lived and co-existed with those trees for millennia.  They were not new in the ecosystem.  But, in that moment in time, the conditions were ready for Pine Bark Beetles’ population to explode.  

This fact is well established in horticultural science 

It is NOT the insect or disease organisms that come first to attack trees or plants.  A healthy tree or plant naturally resists insects or disease organisms.  When a tree or plant is already stressed from various kinds of conditions, that’s when they send out stress-signals and so insects and disease organisms are attracted and have a better chance to continue their own life-cycles there.

Natural "culling" but of unprededented severity.

The beetles were simply doing their job: culling unhealthy trees.  But, since most trees were already stressed, the trees sent out stress-signals and the insects which were already in the ecosystem responded.   Even young trees which are usually full of youthful vigor and health were sufficiently stressed and weak so that they also attracted the Beetles.  

Flying beetles land on a tree.  Females lay eggs under the bark. When the insect’s larval stage tunnels under the tree’s bark to feed itself, it cuts off the circulation of fluids since the tree’s vascular tissue is right underneath the bark.  Without fluids reaching the needles, the needles turn bright red and can’t do photosynthesis.  Without food circulating in the tree and therefore no new growth, the tree eventually dies.  

It was considered by local professionals to be a cyclical “natural culling” of the forests, but the severity of it was unprecedented in recent times.  Usually such a culling does not threaten nearly all of the trees.  But that time, not only the extreme high population of beetles in that “wave” of death was threatening to even young trees, but there was also the threat of fire.  As trees reddened then turned to “Silver Ghosts” in death, they became an extreme fire risk not only to people and human communities but also to the few other Lodgepoles that might still be alive.  

The 2 recommended practices on people’s properties were to either spray chemicals all over the trees or to cut down trees that had insect “hits” on them.  Many homeowners did both. Neither practice was practical on millions of acres of state and national park lands.  

By the time Dr. Jim and I arrived in the Fraser/Winter Park and Vail areas in 2007, the population of beetles was already extremely high and the forests were turning bright red.  So, we were too late to save most of those red trees.  But, there were still some green Lodgepoles remaining. Probably those trees already had insect larvae tunneling in them, but if they were green, they had a chance to survive.

Why not let them die, too, if this was a “natural culling”?  

Potentially Dire Long-Term Consequence: Desertification

The extent of the death of trees--even some as young as 3 feet tall were being hit by insects--was unprecedented.  If so many trees would die, there was a short-to-medium term risk of not only catastrophic fire, but also landslides (and even flooding when the rains might start again) because soil-holding roots were dead.

And the more long-term risk was that less trees would set-off a downward spiral of less tree growth, possibly leading to desertification.  In other words, it was a possibility that the area could eventually become a high desert if less trees grew over time.

What could we do?  

We didn’t know.  And we didn't want to make any promises. Our initial approach starting in 2007 was to help the trees regain some health.  By regaining health, they would be less attractive to the insects and be better able to withstand whatever insects were already inside of them.  

Dr. Jim Conroy with a Lodgepole Pine we nick-named "Claw" at a research property in Fraser, CO.  

I had intuitive communication exchanges with individual Lodgepole pine trees at volunteer properties that our sponsor Marie set up in Winter Park and Fraser.  We also secured a test site in Vail where I communed with the Lodgepoles at a research site there.  

I found out that the trees welcomed my help; they ‘told’ me that they needed to reestablish basic inner functionality: circulation of fluids, better management of existing stored food in order to ‘wake up’ in spring and grow some new needles. They wanted to have better circulation of fluids in any xylem and phloem tubes that were still intact.  They wanted to be able to do more photosynthesis—or at least do more effective photosynthesis with whatever green needles that they had remaining.  

The problem: Circulation was blocked inside of the Lodgepole Pine trees. The solution: Heal and re-establish the feedback loops of inner functionality by interfacing with the tree's innate intelligence using both hands-on energy-based approaches and through consciousness.

How is that done?

In order to understand what happens, see this simplified explanation of physiology.

In stressed trees, many of the feedback loops of functionality such as circulation, cell division, or photoshynthesis, become broken. The health of the tree is compromised as shown on the left side of the diagram above by missing connectors within each function.  It’s hard for a sick tree to compensate or re-establish inner feedback loops by itself.  A downward spiral develops and such a tree could easily go into decline and die.

In  healthy trees, the feedback loops of functionality are fully operational. On the right side of the diagram above, the connectors overlap within each function and between all functions.  We call this a network pattern. This leads to an upward spiral of growth for the tree.

With the hands-on ecological energy-medicine and consciousness processes of Green Centrics® and an early version of EcoPeace Treaties®, functionality to the Lodgepole Pines could be restored. These were my finest methodologies at the time.

In  Green Centrics,  I--or any qualified Green Centrics practitioner--overlap my own bioenergy field with the tree's field and asks its innate intelligence what's broken inside the feedback loops of various systems. Then, Nature's wisdom provides the information necessary so that the tree can heal itself. The practitioner facilitates by providing the tree with what we call a "new healthy network pattern" through consciousness.

In other words, I get intuitive insight from Nature's wisdom and thereby knows what feedback loops need to be re-established. The optimally interconnected pattern (suggested in the Green Centrics process diagram that we teach) is then transferred through consciousness into the tree's bioenergy field. The tree heals itself. Unlike people, trees have no psychological obstacles to healing.

What I called "Co-existence technologies" at the time represented the shift in thinking to address all of the components of an ecosystem––trees, plants, insects, disease organisms, the soil/minerals, animals, the elements, and people––so that each and all are brought into healthy and interconnected relationships.

I used those techniques on that very first trip in early November of 2007 to give the trees a boost in order to get through winter so that they could wake up with less stress and burst out with new growth and new activity in spring.

They did.

We returned in May of 2008 to find ...

The tree named "Ranger" at a Fraser, CO, research site shows both pitch-holes where the Bark Beetle larvae were feeding as well as branch-tips with good growth tips ready to burst out in spring 2008. The photo of this tree represents initial success with hundreds of trees on the various research properties.

…good buds (“candles”) for new growth and only some additional reddening in some trees.

Many Lodgepole Pines that were pale green during our first trip in autumn of 2007 were already badly damaged by the internal blockages of circulation that the larvae caused and weren’t going to survive.

However, there were many other trees on the properties that had a chance because they were still green.  We wanted to give them the best chance we could.  Our task in the spring of 2008 was to make sure the trees at each research site could use the short summer to grow as much as possible. They could compensate for the xylem and phloem that was blocked by adding more xylem and phloem. Please go to individual blog entries for more about this.

Research Sites in Colorado between 2007 and 2016.

13 Trips from 2007 to 2016 and research continues

We made a total of 13 trips between starting in November, 2007 until July of 2016, when we declared success.

The research in Colorado contributed to the development of EcoPeace Treaties as a solid methodology.

Over time, we lost and gained a few sites. We will only report on the ones that are still active. I will make blog entries that follow specific trees at properties that were originally in the study. More sites were added in time. As you can see, we give specific trees names so that we can know who we are talking about.

Here are photos of side-by-side results over 10 years... and you'll want to read on below for more detail into HOW I did my work, the thinking behind it, and a bad thing that turned out well.

The most magnificent of all Lodgepoles we ever saw on our journeys, called “Beacon”, this one has an angelic protector—the property owner Leslie.  In the years of this study, Leslie added to the success by watering this tree during droughts and by sending it intentional and loving messages from her heart.  In the early years of the study, the tree was “hit” countless times along its forked trunk by beetles but it survived and it thriving.

This tree used to have a bird feeder in it, hence the name "Feeder Tree." The inset shows how heavily this tree was "hit" by Pine Bark Beetles. You can see the little bubbles of pitch on the trunk. Ten years later, it is thriving.

This property has a commanding view.  In the left photo, notice how red the forests are in the Fraser valley.  When the beetle explosion happened in 2007, this property lost hundreds of trees.  On the right, note that the key trees have survived and thrived for 10 years. Also note how green is the valley below.  And a wonderful thing happened: many new trees sprouted in the yard and are also thriving.

"Proud Mary" lives as the top of a ridge overlooking the Winter Park valley. The property owner lost hundreds of trees at the beginning of the beetle explosion, but this one and hundreds of others were saved and thrive t"Proud Mary" lives as the top of a ridge overlooking the Winter Park valley. The property owner lost hundreds of trees at the beginning of the beetle explosion, but this one and hundreds of others were saved and thrive today.

‍"Proud Mary" lives as the top of a ridge overlooking the Winter Park valley. The property owner lost hundreds of trees at the beginning of the beetle explosion, but this one and hundreds of others were saved and thrive today.

"The Quartet" group of Lodgepoles grew over the years despite insect "hits", street re-paving, and traffic. The 4 trees in this grouping all showed some reddening in the early years but recovered. In 2016, officials in the town decided to remodel this building. Sadly, these trees were cut down for a driveway.

This property was very hard-hit by tree loss because it is close to other modest size plots in a suburban environment that were also hard-hit. We called this tree “Claw” because of the reddened branch in front that is arched. In the photo on the left, the tree also had other branches that were not looking healthy.  Other trees behind it also have red branches. In the inset, each pink arrow points to a bubble of pitch which indicates an insect “hit” on the trunk of Claw.  Most professionals in the area told the property owner to cut these trees down as they were “doomed.”  However, 10 years later, they and others in the yard thrive.