Drought, Insects Hammer Trees In Southern NM

Southern New Mexico – ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRWG) A combination of drought and insect infestation is wreaking havoc on conifer trees in the mountains of southern New Mexico.

Officials with the U.S. Forest Service and the State Forestry Division say annual surveys done by the two agencies show ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and white fir trees throughout the Sacramento Mountains are dying off at higher levels than last year.

Officials say trees in south-central New Mexico have become more stressed due to a year of drought and that has opened the door for several species of bark beetles to attack.

If beetle populations increase, officials say that can even mean trouble for healthy trees.

Land managers say they're looking for ways to curb the increase in beetles and will continue working with private, local and tribal landowners.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. KRWG