Environmental experts say that the sugar maple tree in the Northeast U.S. is threatened with extinction unless drastic steps are taken to control acid rain. Sulfur dioxide coming from coal-burning plants and factories is chemically transformed in the atmosphere before falling to earth as acid rain. Forestry experts say that acid rain weakens leaves' waxy protective layers (which help them fight disease) and hurts root systems by leaching out sugars and amino acids necessary for growth. By 1982, the population of the sugar maple trees in Quebec had declined 32%. In summer, 1986 an aerial survey showed an 82% decline. In 1985- 1986, maple syrup production dropped 26% in NY, 38% in VT and 50% in parts of Canada.
Researchers say the only way to slow the decline of trees and waterways is to legislate strict environmental
limits on the amount of emissions a factory is allowed and require industries to install sulfur-removal
equipment in their smokestacks. The coal-producing states and companies have succeeded so far in their
opposition to such standards. The Reagan Administration has questioned the link between emissions and
--Peter Montague, Ph.D.
Descriptor terms: acid rain; air pollution; vegetation; forests; sugar maple trees; ny; vt; canada; standards; emissions; sulfur dioxide; coal; reagan;