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Thousands of trees are dying.
And one expert warns that if the drought continues, "we could be on the verge of an ecological disaster."
You can see the problem in scattered parts of the Salt Lake Valley. Spruces and pines. You know, "evergreens?"
Some are now brown or even red.
Colleen Keyes/Utah Division of Forestry & State Lands: "WE'VE GOT A SEVERE DROUGHT IN THE LAST FEW YEARS, AND THE TREES ARE UNDER A LOT OF STRESS."
Strictly speaking it's not the drought that's killing them.
Chop away the bark, and you'll see the true killer.
It's a tiny bug called the Ips Beetle. It's also known as the Engraver Beetle because of the grooves it chews through a tree's vital tissues. Normally, the tree defends itself by pushing the beetle out with sap.
Colleen Keyes/Utah Division of Forestry & State Lands: "WHEN THERE'S NOT ENOUGH WATER TO PRODUCE SAP, THE TREE CAN'T PROTECT ITSELF."
John Hollenhorst, Eyewitness News: "THE BEETLES ARE ALWAYS AROUND. AND IN NORMAL TIMES THEY DO THE TREES A FAVOR BY THINNING OUT THE WEAKEST ONES. BUT AFTER FIVE YEARS OF DROUGHT, NEARLY ALL THE TREES ARE WEAKENED."
Colleen Keyes/Utah Division of Forestry & State Lands: "AND SO THE BEETLE POPULATION REALLY IS GOING WILD THROUGHOUT THE WEST."
Which brings us to an even more dramatic dimension of the problem: Pinyon trees in Southeastern Utah are dying by the thousands.
Lynn Jackson/U.S. Bureau of Land Management: "WE'RE SEEING SOME EPIDEMIC PROPORTIONS OF THIS BEETLE INFESTATION."
It's just now spreading into Utah from other Four Corners states where some forests are 95 percent dead.
Lynn Jackson/U.S. Bureau of Land Management: "THERE ARE PATCHES OF PINYON WOODLANDS THAT ARE LITERALLY BEING WIPED OUT." Lynn Jackson of the BLM says there could be an ecological disaster if the drought continues.
Lynn Jackson/U.S. Bureau of Land Management: "IT COULD BE MILIONS OF ACRES BEFORE THIS IS DONE."
If the tiny beetle kills that many trees, Jackson says they likely would be replaced by weeds and noxious plants.
That would mean less forage for animals and a dramatically increased fire hazard that could haunt the region for many years.
Lynn Jackson/U.S. Bureau of Land Management: "UNFORTUNATELY THERE'S NOT A LOT THAT CAN BE DONE."
Except to hope, or pray, for better weather.