A plague of beetles has killed 80% of pinon pine trees in parts of Southwest Colorado. Colorado State Forest Service assistant forester Kent Grant says the beetle infestation is a large scale natural disaster. He says it's probably the first time anyone has seen this happen on this magnitude since the area was settled by people of European ancestry.
Hundreds of thousands of trees over tens of thousands of acres are dead or dying in Southwest Colorado, northern New Mexico and northern Arizona.
The beetle epidemic is rooted in the drought. Drought stressed trees can't defend themselves, and beetles flourish in a warm, dry climate.
The dead trees also increase the threat of a catastrophic wildfire.