Tree Mortality & Falling Hazards

First published December 21, 2017

Dead and dying trees in the Tahoe National Forest and Nevada County is a fact of contemporary life. Being aware of hazards that dead trees cause and hyperconscious of fire starting activities will help keep families and neighbors safer.

 

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 populated 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.”

“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

“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,” says 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.

California’s ‘New Normal’ Fire Safety Strategies

“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

Falling Trees

  • 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

Defensible Space Around Homes

“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.

We also have an opportunity to witness the adaptations that nature makes in response to drought, global warming, and pest infestations.

 

If you liked this post, check out Native Plants for Healing the Land after Fire or bark Miniscule Mountain Beetle Turning Forests Red

Resources:

Forest Research and Outreach – University of California

Homeowner Responsibilities – USDA

Nevada County FireSafe Council – 2018-2019 Fire Season Guide + Emergency Preparedness and Evacuation Guide

One Less Spark – One Less Wildfire – fire prevention

Ongoing hazards from trees affected by drought – PG&E

Our Forests are Changing  – USDA

Prepare for Bark Beetle – CalFire

USDA Forest Service – Aerial Detection Survey Results

With California Drought Over, Fewer Sierra Pines Dying –  10/24/17 – 

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