The Associated Press December 19, 2011, 5:09PM ET

Drought may have claimed 500 million Texas trees

Preliminary estimates from the Texas Forest Service show the year-long drought in Texas may have claimed as many as a half-billion trees.

The agency surveyed forestry professionals from regions around Texas, which has a total tree population of about 4.9 billion. Researchers analyzing the information have determined from 100 million to 500 million, or from 2 to 10 percent of all trees, have been lost.

Burl Carraway, who heads the agency's sustainable forestry department, says the exceptional drought, high winds and record-setting temperatures left trees dead or struggling to survive.

The survey results released Monday found hardest hit areas include Sutton, Crockett, Kimble and Pecos counties in West Texas; Montgomery, Harris, Grimes, Madison and Leon counties in Southeast Texas; and Bastrop and Caldwell counties in Central Texas.

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