SPOKANE, Wash. -

A new study warns that a fungus that devours the roots of Douglas fir trees in the Northwest could become a bigger killer as the climate changes.

Laminated root rot occurs from Montana to the Pacific Ocean and already costs the timber industry millions of dollars each year.

The Spokesman-Review reports that if the disease doesn't kill the fir trees outright, it leaves them weakened and susceptible to bark beetle attacks and uprooting during wind storms.

The study was overseen by the Washington Department of Natural Resources.