July 12, 2017
Woodstock — Consider it an ecological murder mystery.
The Twin States’ red pines are dying, and for the last few years, University of New Hampshire researcher Mike Simmons has been on the case, trekking into the woods to perform autopsies on wooden corpses and taking tissue samples back to the lab for forensic analysis.
When Simmons is out in the field, sometimes he sees stands of majestic, hundred-foot-tall red pines that are barely affected — perhaps a bit of discoloration at the lofty crown, or a few needles dropping off.
Other times it’s a sap bath, with dismembered limbs strewn across the forest floor, and 80 percent of a community of pines dead, skeletons firmly rooted in place and awaiting decay.