Survey: State’s pinon juniper trees are growing

From - ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Good news for pine nut lovers. Not so good for allergy sufferers. A five-year inventory of New Mexico’s forested lands shows positive growth rates among the state’s most important pinon and juniper species. However, other trees in the drought-stricken state have struggled more in recent years.
      Researchers with the State Forestry Division and the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station studied more than 3,000 areas across New Mexico between 2008 and 2012 to get a better idea of what was happening within the state’s forests. Officials say the resulting inventory is the most comprehensive collection of forest health trends in the state’s history.
       While the recent drought has undoubtedly affected pinon and juniper resources in New Mexico, researchers said the magnitude of the impact varies widely and future mortality rates will depend on temperature and precipitation trends.
       Pinon and juniper trees make up the most abundant types of forest in New Mexico. They cover more than 13.6 million acres, and more than half of those acres include pinon groves old enough to produce harvest-worthy quantities of pine nuts.
       Data collected by the researchers suggest that in the absence of a major disturbance, New Mexico’s pine nut output will likely increase over the next 20 years. More