Fewer trees in Texas

Sarah Gardner Dec 22, 2011

Adriene Hill: To say that 2011 was a hot and dry one in Texas is a bit of an understatement. It’s been the worst one-year drought on record for the Lone Star State.

And as Sarah Gardner reports from the Marketplace sustainability desk, it’s had devastating consequences for Texas woodlands.

Sarah Gardner: The numbers are stunning, even to officials at the Texas Forest Service who did the survey. Analyst Chris Edgar estimates this year’s scorcher wiped out 100 to 500 million trees, from ashe junipers to loblolly pines.

Chris Edgar: To put that into perspective, that’s about two to ten percent of the total number of trees that we have in the state on forest land.

In East Texas, the drought’s wreaking havoc on the timber business. It’s already lost nearly a billion dollars this year just from wildfires. Industry consultant Bob Harper says tree plantation owners now have a tough decision to make: To invest in re-planting or not.

Bob Harper: A lot of people are having to decide, do I want to take the risk? And the forecasts we’re hearing are that this drought’s going to be at least another five or six months before anything happens favorable.

This past summer, Texas suffered the hottest three months in a row ever reported in American history.

I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

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