Foresters say pests and fungal infections are afflicting the region's ponderosa pines, and while they seldom kill the trees, they do worry landowners.
The Spokesman-Review reports that the unsightly appearance of the trees is being caused by fungal infections and tiny insects called pine scale that thrive during cool, moist conditions. Pine scale can look like paint spatters, while fungi are identified by black or brown splotches on the needles.
Steve McConnell, a Washington State University Extension forester in Spokane, says he's getting two to three calls per day from panicky landowners. But he says that if trees are otherwise healthy, they should recover no problem.
State Department of Natural Resources officer Guy Gifford says the outbreaks are typically not so widespread. This year, he's seeing acres of affected trees, and he says that is unusual.