Monday, 11 July 2016

Over 66 million trees dead in California (Up from 3.3 million in 2014) causing even greater fire risk

  • Officials announce over 66 million trees dead in California Coordinated effort continues to remove dead trees Sacramento - 
  • As wildfires burn across California, new estimates on the number of dead trees in California were announced, prompting continued concern for California’s forest health and wildfire danger. 
Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency to help California address a bark beetle infestation that is killing tens of millions of trees.
The governor sent a letter Friday to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack seeking federal action for "the worst epidemic of tree mortality in its modern history."
The tree die-off is exacerbated by four years of extreme drought conditions, which has left trees vulnerable to the native beetles.
The United States Forest Service estimates that more than 66 million trees have already died in California.

Brown is asking the federal government for additional funding and help for private landowners to remove dead and dying trees.
Friday's proclamation is just the latest in California's response to the drought. Today the US Forest Service released the outcome of its latest aerial surveys over California forestland, finding that over 66 million trees have now died due to drought and bark beetles since 2010.
That number is up from 29 million dead trees in 2015 and 3.3 million in 2014.
"The sheer number of dead trees is hard to imagine, but it’s real and what we have been anticipating for some time now,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director and state forester.
“We must continue our work to remove dead trees around roadways and critical infrastructure, while homeowners remove dead trees around their homes."
In October, 2015 Governor Brown signed an executive order due to the tree mortality, which created the state’s Tree Mortality Task Force.
Over 80 local, state and federal agencies, as well as utilities and various stakeholders make up the task force, whose efforts have continued to focus on the coordinated response.
The task force has been working to provide for public health and safety, as the dead trees pose a serious public safety and wildfire threat.
A coordinated effort has been underway to remove dead trees in the 10 counties identified to have the highest hazard.
The 10 counties span from Placer County down through the Central Sierra to Kern County.
While county public works crews have been removing trees along county roads, Caltrans has been hard at work focusing on state highways.
PG&E, Southern California Edison and other utility companies have been removing hazardous trees around their powerlines. All while CAL FIRE and US Forest Service crews continue building fuel breaks and assisting the counties in their efforts. Full report here

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