Over 60 Million Trees in Southern Sierra Nevada Dead due to Drought, Insect Infestation
The lethal combination of drought, warming weather and outbreak of bark beetle has caused the death of more than 66 million trees in California's Southern Sierra Nevada since 2010.
According to the report from CBS Sacramento, U.S. Forest Service reported more than 26 million trees have died over the past eight months, adding up to the 60 million dead trees previously discovered to dead between 2010 and October 2015.
Millions of trees are still in danger of dying as California waltz through its fifth consecutive year with severe drought. The drought makes it harder for the trees to obtain water, making them more susceptible to beetle infestation.
The increasing rates of trees dying not only pose a grave threat in the balance of ecosystem, but also present imminent danger, especially during wildfire seasons.
"Tree die-offs of this magnitude are unprecedented and increase the risk of catastrophic wildfires that puts property and lives at risk," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who oversees the Forest Service, said in a report from Los Angeles Times.
In October 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown declared an emergency and formed a task force responsible for clearing the dead trees that threatens motorists and mountain communities. The trees were sent to be burned at biomass plants to generate electricity. Some of the dead trees were also sent to lumber mill or burned in incinerator.
At present, the Forest Service reported that 77,000 trees posing danger along roads and near communities and campgrounds were cut. The Forest Service is doing everything that they can in order to prevent any dangers posed by the high number of dead trees. They even committed $32 million to resolve the issue of dead trees in California.
However, the Forest Service has already spent more than half of its budget in 2015 on fire management, making it hard for them to address and restore damaged forest due to lack of budget.
This made them to urge the congress to address finances allocated to wildfire, like other natural disasters in the country.