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From The Santa Fe New Mexican (Thom Cole):
Forest mortality increased nearly 50 percent across New Mexico in 2018, the first jump in five years, according to an annual report on the health of the state’s forests.
More than 120,000 acres of ponderosa pine, spruce, piñon and other trees were lost, said the recently released report.
Near-record heat and a drought across the state weakened the ability of trees to fight off beetles and other pests, according to John Formby, an entomologist who heads the state forest health program.
“The trees can’t defend themselves, produce resin,” Formby said.
He said the health of the state’s forests should improve this year due to heavier winter snows and a wet start to spring, but said the trend is for continued forest loss because of hotter, drier weather brought on by climate change.
“Long term, I’m not expecting [annual mortality] numbers to vary very much,” Formby said.
Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have said it is highly likely New Mexico will lose the vast majority of its forests by 2050.