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Most of these trees have fallen victim to the mountain pine beetle, but thanks to a few companies, the dead wood isn't going to waste.     Photo: Tim Gage/Flickr

Making the Best of Beetle Kill—with New Gear

“Blue-stain pine” used to go to waste. Now companies are using the wood to make outdoor lifestyle products—and the trend is growing.

For more than a decade, drought conditions have set the stage for a mountain pine beetle epidemic throughout millions of acres of forest in the Rocky Mountain West. Standing dead lodgepole pines pose a safety risk when left by roadsides or in campgrounds, and state agencies have struggled to clear out the hazardous wood.

But it hasn’t all ended up in the chipper. Seeing opportunity in the timber, various designers in Colorado and Montana have manipulated the wood into everything from cabinets to coffins. Weston Snowboards founder Barry Clark says he created his business out of the desire to do something productive with the surplus pine. “You walk outside the front door, and it’s just depressing to see so much of this wood,” he says. “I thought about how I could use it in a meaningful way.”

Though once considered waste, “blue-stain pine” is now in vogue, partly because it comes mottled with blue-gray streaks from a fungus carried by the bugs. Below we've complied a list of beetle-kill wood products to serve your outdoor lifestyle—and remind you of the delicate state of the woods out west.

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