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Forest at famed Idaho ski area facing wildfires, insects

FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2007, file photo, snow machines turned into sprinklers spew water down a ski run at left as fire smolders in trees nearby above the Warm Springs area of Ketchum, Idaho. The forest in and around one of the nation's top ski destinations is in trouble from an ongoing combination of unusually warm temperatures, drought, wildfires, insect invaders and pathogens. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

BOISE, Idaho — The forest in and around one of the nation’s top ski destinations is in trouble from an ongoing combination of unusually warm temperatures, drought, wildfires, insect invaders and pathogens.

So the U.S. Forest Service is starting an environmental analysis to find ways to improve the forest’s health at Sun Valley Resort’s Bald Mountain ski area, a huge economic driver for the region heavily dependent on tourism.

The potential Bald Mountain Stewardship Project includes the entire 3,000-acre (1,200-hectare) ski area.

Officials say wildfires in 2007 and 2013 surrounded 9,150-foot (2,789-meter) Bald Mountain with burned forest, increasing bark beetle attacks.

Pine beetles, dwarf mistletoe and white pine blister rust are also killing trees on the ski-run carved mountain that forms a scenic backdrop for the resort towns of Ketchum and Sun Valley.

Keith Ridler, The Associated Press