Six years of California droughts leaves more than 100 M trees dead

Wake of dead trees elevates risk of wildfires


By Allie Sanchez

The drought in the Golden State that has extended over the past six years has left 102 million dead trees across 7.7 million acres of forest in its wake, according to the US Forest Service (USFS), as reported by EcoWatch.

The death rate climbed by more than 100% in 2016, with 62 million trees dying, compared to the previous year, the report further said.

“The scale of die-off in California is unprecedented in our modern history," Randy Moore, a forester for the U.S. Forest Service, was quoted in the report as saying, adding that trees are dying "at a rate much quicker than we thought."

Most of the tree deaths can be found in 10 counties in the southern and central Sierra Nevada regions.

"Five consecutive years of severe drought in California, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and warmer temperatures are leading to these historic levels of tree die-off," the USFS further explained in the report.

USFS experts also said that more trees are likely to die in the coming months and years due to stressors such as root diseases and bark beetle activity, among others. The northern regions are also expected to be vulnerable to tree deaths, especially the Siskiyou, Modoc, Plumas and Lassen counties.

"These dead and dying trees continue to elevate the risk of wildfire, complicate our efforts to respond safely and effectively to fires when they do occur, and pose a host of threats to life and property across California," agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack was also quoted as saying in the report.

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