COLLEGE STATION (September 25, 2012)--An updated ground and aerial survey released Tuesday indicates about 301 million trees have died in rural Texas because of the 2011 drought.
The Texas A&M Forest Service said Tuesday that the figure is the product of an examination of hundreds of forested plots statewide.
The Texas agency last December announced a preliminary estimate that as many as 500 million trees were killed by the drought.
The three-month extended review used ground inspections and before-and-after satellite images.
The findings represent trees in rural, forested areas that died from drought, insect infestation or disease due to drought stress.
“Tree death is a natural forest process. We just had more last year than previous years,” said Burl Carraway, department head for the Texas A&M Forest Service Sustainable Forestry department.
The figure does not include trees that died in cities and towns.
Experts earlier this year determined another 5.6 million trees in urban areas died as a result of the devastating drought.
Texas A&M Forest Service Analyst Chris Edgar estimated that 272 million dead trees already littered the landscape before the drought.
“So what’s the fate of these trees? The vast majority are going to stand out there — until they eventually fall to the ground,” said.
He said standing, dead trees located near homes or recreation areas should be removed.