September 22, 2009

SAD day for Aspens in the West

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Tomorrow is the official start of fall, and that means glorious autumn colors soon to follow. . .or does it? Something is killing Aspens throughout the West. The condition, known as SAD for “Sudden Aspen Decline” is starting to show up in New Mexico’s Carson National Forest, writes Staci Matlock of the New Mexican. Trees with the condition have blistered trunks, and fail to leaf out. Scientists suspect drought has something to do with the trees’ susceptibility. And they fear increasing droughts in the future could wipe out the signature trees of the Southwest. The Smithsonian has a good explanation of the history of the problem. The cure may be just as bad as the disease in the short term. Forest researchers suggest that slash cutting, or burning the diseased stands will make room for new healthy clones of the trees to shoot up from the roots. That’s tough medicine. But it would be even sadder not to try.

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