Study: Pine Beetles Not Helping Water Flow In Colorado

December 22, 2015
Photo: Pine Beetle kill (AP Photo)
Pine trees in the White River National Forest near Frisco, Colo., glow rusty red after being killed by the mountain pine beetle in this file photo.

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. 

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