Making the Most of an Ecological Disaster: The Pine Beetle Kill

The ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the recent flooding in Tennessee have underscored the devastating financial impact of ecological disasters. Some U.S. communities have tried to actually learn from similar events and rebuild their damaged economies.

The Rocky Mountain West, from Mexico up to British Columbia in Canada, has been under siege for several years now from an intruder the size of a grain of rice. The mountain pine beetle has infested and killed tens of millions of acres of trees, creating public safety hazards and forest fires of epic proportions.

Last December, the U.S. Forest Service committed $40 million dollars to clear more than 2.5 million acres of forest affected by the beetle.