You’d think after a healthy Winter forests across the state would be showing massive improvement in the rate of tree mortality. But the news up here is still not so good.
“There, you can see where the bark beetles entered,” motions Rich Bailey mountain manager at China Peak, “This tree wasn’t able to put out any pitch which usually fights off the bark beetles if it’s a healthy tree, and they basically girdled the tree and killed it.”
Bailey is not only the mountain manager at China Peak but also a former forester and current resident of the area.
“You can see where the bark beetles have eaten.”
Both living and working up here, for Bailey, finding and felling trees killed by the bark beetle has been a nearly daily task.
“You can see too many pines per acre and there’s just not enough nutrients to go around.”
27 millions trees have died across the state just this past year, bringing the total number to a historic 129 million.
“There will still be unusually high mortality going into next year, again, due to the magnitude that we’ve experienced, it will take time for that to taper off.” says Dean Gould, forest supervisor with the Sierra National Forest.
Gould says continued efforts by all in helping to thin overcrowded forests and fell dying trees will certainly help. But ultimately, Mother Nature may be the biggest factor.
“A Winter somewhat similar to last year, that would help tremendously to help expedite getting back to some level of normalcy as far as annual tree mortality on the forest.”
Besides and affect on scenery these trees also pose a risk of falling on people, roadways and property. But perhaps the most threatening issue, how susceptible the forests continue to be to wildfire.