Ask Joe: Why are so many trees dying along Mt. Rose Highway?

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    From the Ask Joe file, we have a question about the health of some trees along the Mount Rose Highway.

    News 4 viewer Chris Barker wrote in with the question.

    Chris says he's noticed a lot of trees dying off and he wants to know if it's possible the snow melt chemical that's used on the roads during the winter months is responsible.

    Chris sent in a few photos showing some of the dying trees he spotted along Mount Rose Highway and Joy Lake Drive. This is something you'll notice throughout the area, but as Chris points out, it seems to be worse the closer you are to the road.

    So, what's going on? I checked with Erica Hupp with the U.S. Forest Service about this.

    It's interesting because, at first, the Forest Service seemed puzzled about this situation. Then they confirmed that staff from the Intermountain Region Forest Health Protection Office will be visiting the Carson District in two weeks to try to figure out exactly what is going on. Hupp says the most likely culprits are the recent drought or insects but we should know more once that team of experts arrives to get a first-hand look.

    I did ask NDOT about whether road chemicals could be hurting the trees. They say it's unlikely because they use only the smallest amount of salt and sand to keep the roads clear during the winter months. Meg Ragonese with NDOT also says they sweep the roads within several days of applying that salt/sand mix but again, it will be up to that Forest Service team to look at all possible causes once they inspect that area. We'll be sure follow up with them once that happens.

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