California’s Drought is Killing Tens of Thousands of Trees in the Forests

According to a new report from the US Forest Service, the state’s prolonged drought is beginning to take a toll on the tree population, killing them by the tens of millions.

In Lassen county, 840,000 and another 1.3 million trees in Plumas are estimated to be dead across a combined 200,000 acres. The report indicates that tree mortality rates significantly increased this year from last, specifically impacting red and white fir and yellow pine species. The severity of the tree death was also much more significant. Around one-third of the trees surrounding Susanville are dying, while throughout Plumas, particularly in the Beckwourth area, nearly half of the trees are dead.

The drought continues to stress the trees, resulting in heavy infestation and disease due to invasions of bark beetles, contributing to more tree mortality in the forests. The Department of water resources says this wet winter producing an above-average snowpack has helped the state’s drought status. Still, several more years of above-average rain and snow are needed before any real change can be seen.

In addition, in efforts to improve forest health, The Forest Service recently announced to mitigate and reduce forest fire severity with a federal investment of over 900 million dollars through the Biden administration’s bipartisan infrastructure law and inflation reduction act, which would increase the rate at which forests are thinned from overcrowding.

The aerial flights for the annual survey were conducted between July and October of 2022. The full report can be found by visiting the US forest service website.

The Lassen Fire Safe Council will welcome guest speaker Entomologist Daniel Cluck to the Susan River Fire House on February 15th during their board meeting to discuss the impacts of bark beetle on the local forests. The meeting begins at 5:30. If you cannot make this meeting, there will be another opportunity on February 28th in Milford at the Milford Community Center starting at 5:30.