A new study indicates that isn't happening.
Pine beetles in Colorado have impacted an area about the size of Connecticut. Researchers hoped the beetles would actually help with a persistent drought across the west. That's because a lack of healthy trees would allow more water to flow into streams and reservoirs.
"The extent of mortality was so great that it pushed the forest structure from a sweet spot for water production to an environment where we really didn't get more stream flow," said Paul Brooks, a professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah.
Brooks hopes his study will help inform tree-thinning methods that would improve forest health and increase water for people downstream.