Our too-thirsty forests

8 May 2012

Ronald Reagan once justified logging with "a tree is a tree; how many more do you need to look at?" Besides, he warned, "trees cause more pollution than automobiles." We cringed at his biases. Yet due to forces none foresaw, Reagan's gaffes may now ring true.

Today, the hottest and thirstiest parts of the United States are best described as over-forested. Vigorous federal protection has stocked semiarid regions of public land with several billion trees too many. And day after day these excess trees deplete a natural resource that has become far more precious than toilet paper or 2-by-4's: water.