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This Colorado ranch-made-lab is turning beetle-kill trees into lumber in the name of forest health

BLANCA — Dead trees raked from the forest floor are piled into fences more than a dozen feet high. Inside the tangled-timber barricades are verdant forests of aspens. On the other side is a barren landscape, where armies of marauding ungulates munch every aspen shoot that pushes through the dirt. 

The aspen havens span hundreds of acres across the 172,000-acre Trinchera Blanca Ranch flanking southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley. And they are only a sliver of the forest-management strategies at the ranch that are emerging as a model for the most progressive science bolstering forest health across a drought-stricken Intermountain West. 

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