The Pine Bark Beetle is devastating the forests in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. Literally millions of acres of trees have been lost and more are going all the time. It's hard to imagine what this landscape is going to look like in ten years and the impact on watersheds and air quality is catastrophic. There are plenty here in the west who give a knee-jerk denial of global warming as a factor. Even as the polar ice caps melt, glaciers disappear and the lodgepole pine forest around them dies you can hear them echoing the Republican theme that it is a "natural cycle". How much evidence could one need? Winters in the Rockies can still feel very cold, (it was 0° F this morning when I woke up) but rarely do temperatures drop into the sub-zero range for weeks at a time anymore. Those deep and extended cold spells were enough to kill off the beetles as they lie dormant. Not anymore. And now the attack is spreading to whitebark pines which tend to thrive at even higher elevations than the lodgepoles typically do. Some of the recently killed witebark pines have been dated as being over 700 years old. If this is a natural cycle, it has a very very long period.
The beetle kill means that right now there's plenty of standing deadwood, easy pickings for firewood hunters. I've always liked cutting and splitting firewood. There is a kind of satisfaction in it that maybe goes back to the old saw that cutting wood warms you twice.
To get your wood; drive up into the National Forest with your firewood permit, find a standing dead tree, drop it, cut it into pickup bed lengths, load it and drive it home. Cut the logs into rounds that fit the stove and split them up.