6/18/18 – This blog post is written by Waste Knot – a team of three students in the GSSE MBA program. Bessie, Ariel, and Kevin are developing innovative solutions to the beetlekill problem in Colorado forests.
Fort Collins is quiet in the summer, leaving plenty of time for hiking and long venture sessions in one of many coffee shops. Hiking is a classic Colorado summer activity, but it also provides a stark perspective into the natural ecosystems and challenges in the high country. Look around when you hike almost anywhere along the Front Range, and you will find dense forests with dead trees, many killed from a pine beetle epidemic that devastated a fifth of Colorado’s forests over the past decade. The dead trees and overly dense forests create a plethora of problems for Colorado communities including high intensity wildfires, threatened watershed health, public safety concerns, and declining forest health.
We are just beginning our summer research to deeply understand the issue. So far, we have traveled to Montana to attend a Wood Innovations Technology conference, participated in the Colorado Association for Recycling Summit, and met with many industry professionals through connections provided by our project partner, the United States Forest Service. We are building a network that will enable us to find innovative financing or product solutions to address the dead wood problem in our state. And although forest service professionals, sawmill owners, and high-country Colorado landowners may sound gruff and a little grizzly, we have been welcomed to each team and community with enthusiastic support for our venture research and the possibility of a viable business solution to this ticking time-bomb of a problem.