The most lasting impact, though, may be to Indiana’s trees.
“It’ll be years before we see all the damage,” said Purdue University forestry expert Lindsay Purcell.
The lack of rainfall put all kinds of trees, including the state’s crop of Christmas trees, under massive stress and made them more vulnerable to damaging insects and viruses, Purcell said. And that means that trees that didn’t die last year are showing signs of dying off this year.
Hard hit is the state’s official tree: the tulip tree, which Purcell calls “the wimp of the woods” for its inability to withstand drought.
Phil Marshall, a plant pathologist with the DNR, expects to see more dead tulip trees like the ones on the Statehouse lawn. His long-term view: “The tulip tree is dying and will continue to die over the next two to three years,” Marshall said. “Expect to see oak, hickory and maple mortality over the next two to five years.”
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at email@example.com.