Tree Mortality Rates Slow But Forests Remain Under Significant Stress

Tree Mortality Rates Slow But Forests Remain Under Significant Stress

The state’s tree mortality rate, slowed last year, but forests are clearly still under significant stress from drought, insects, and disease, bringing an increased risk for wildfires. Monday, federal and state forest and fire officials, reported that since the fall of 2017, an additional 18 million trees, mostly conifers, have died. In total, since the state’s devastating five-year drought began in 2010, an estimated 147 million trees have died across 9.7 million acres of federal, state, local, and private lands in California. The number represents one of the largest tree die-offs in state history. The winter rains of 2016-2017 officially ended the drought; however, below-average precipitation that followed in 2017-2018 slowed recovery of surviving trees. Officials note that dead and dying trees in forested areas are still posing significant hazards to people and critical infrastructure. In accordance with the state’s 2019 strategic fire plan, Cal Fire will continue increasing and expanding fuels and forest management projects and grants. Confirming his commitment to forest health, Governor Gavin Newsom last month also included a five-year, $1 billion forest management plan in his 2019-2020 state budget proposal.

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