Dying Trees in California, 100 million dead in latest flyover
Recently I took a trip through the windy and breathtaking roads of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. To my surprise the once lush evergreen landscape was littered with coffee stain like patches of devastation. After a frustrating battle with cellphone reception I hastily googled the answer. My jaw dropped as I read the horrible news. At the time 66 million trees had died.
The Voracious Bark Beetle
According to the USDA the bark beetle is nothing new. It has affected approximately 41.7 million acres west of the Rockies since 1997. The bark beetle has been around for awhile but due to the favorable conditions it wreaked serious havoc.
What favorable conditions?
Years of drought has weakened the California trees. No doubt the lack of water is stressing out the forest.
Are other factors contributing?
Smog also weakens trees. The more smog we produce the more difficult it becomes for trees to stay healthy. Healthy trees produce resins which may contain natural insecticidal and fungicidal compounds. With the lack of compounds the trees are sitting ducks for opportunistic pests.
66 Million dead initially. U.S Forest Service now says 100 million
The bark beetle is ravaging the evergreens of the Sierra Nevada to the rate of 100 million trees so far. Prior to the latest flyover The USDA estimated 66 million trees had been affected in California. Dying trees in California can easily be spotted by the distinct reddish brown needles. If they are brown they are already dead.
On Nov 18, 2016 the United States Forest Service announced the number is actually closer to 100 million trees. The latest arial flyover reveled 37 million additional conifers.
The dying trees in California are distributed throughout the state.
Is poor air quality slowly killing our trees?
If poor air quality weakens trees we have to swallow the uncomfortable truth. Whether you believe in climate change or not. One thing is certain, air pollution doesn’t help trees and plants grow well. If we do not get our pollution problem under control we will see more physical manifestations of an ailing environment. California is growing rapidly and with growth comes pollution. If we continue to make our trees ill we will fall ill next. Too often we see trees as commodities and not living organisms. Let the dying trees in California be a stark reminder of our close connected relationship with nature.