“Though California received record-breaking rains in the winter of 2016-2017, the effects of five consecutive years of severe drought, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation, and rising temperatures have led to historic levels of tree die-off. ” – Tree Mortality Task Force – News Release 12/12/17
From 66 million dead trees in 2010 to 129 million in 2017, the State of California is losing trees at a rate that no one has previously seen. An effective response is beyond what the US Forest Service and CalFire can handle. Keeping homes and recreation areas safe from wildfires and falling trees, as well as aiding in forest recovery will take cooperation between homeowners, PG&E, NID, recreation facility managers, environmental, nonprofit, and government agencies.
“The Tree Mortality Taskforce has provided an essential venue for coordination of response efforts, exchange of ideas, reporting, and accountability for the ongoing statewide response to this incident,” said Supervisor Nathan Magsig of Fresno County. – News Release 12/12/17 Tree Mortality Taskforce. In Executive Order B-42-17, Governor Brown relaxed regulations so that anyone licensed for timber and tree service operations can perform tree removal in high-risk areas.
Preventing Wildfires, Falling Tree Hazards & Homeowner Responsibilities
“Approximately 95% of all wildfires in California are caused by people,” says the California Wildland Fire Coordinating Group (CWCG).
Roadway, Burn Pile, and Camping Safety
Sparks along Roadways
Burn Pile Safety
Putting out Campfires
- stay clear of large stands of dead trees, especially if it is windy
- look up and around before parking near dead trees, don’t park in the potential path of a tree fall
- if traveling to remote areas, keep a chainsaw or ax in your vehicle in case a tree fall blocks the road
- Tree Mortality – Watch Out – PDF
“The importance of removing dead and diseased trees cannot be overstated. Addressing widespread tree mortality is a crucial first step to not only safeguarding our forest communities but also in creating a healthier and more resilient Sierra Nevada forest – which provides more than 60 percent of the state’s water supply.” – Tom Berryhill, Tree Mortality Update – 3/2016
- Remove dead trees
- Create defensible space around your home
- Call PG&E (1-800-743-5000) if you have a dead tree threatening a power line
- Create a home evacuation plan and ‘go-kit.’ Check kit supplies monthly
After the McCourtney and Lobo fires in October 2017, Nevada County residents were harshly reminded about how quickly wildfires can move through communities.
By being aware of potential dead tree hazards, as well as being mindful of sparks and other activities that could start wildfires, we’ll keep our homes, and recreation areas safe.
We also have an opportunity to witness the adaptations that nature makes in response to drought, global warming, and pest infestations.
RELATED POST: Miniscule Mountain Beetle Turning Northwestern Forests Red – Bark Beetle
Forest Research and Outreach – University of California
Homeowner Responsibilities – USDA
One Less Spark – One Less Wildfire – fire prevention
Our Forests are Changing – USDA
Prepare for Bark Beetle – CalFire