Cal­i­for­nia Trees: State Of Emer­gency

Escalon Times - - NEWS -

Sen­a­tor Tom Ber­ry­hill (R-Twain Harte) sub­mit­ted a re­quest to Gover­nor Jerry Brown and Cal­i­for­nia Of­fice of Emer­gency Ser­vices Di­rec­tor, Mark Ghi­lar­ducci, to de­clare a State of Emer­gency be­cause of the threat pre­sented by the in­creas­ing num­bers of dead and dy­ing trees in ru­ral ar­eas.

“Drought, in­va­sive species, and the history of mis­man­aged fed­eral, state, and other forest­lands have placed Cal­i­for­nia in a sit­u­a­tion where high num­bers of dead or dy­ing trees are pro­vid­ing fuel that is es­ca­lat­ing the in­ten­sity of wild­fires through­out the state,” said the sen­a­tor. “This sit­u­a­tion threat­ens our abil­ity to con­serve wa­ter, jeop­ar­dizes air qual­ity and car­bon re­duc­tion as well.”

While the Gover­nor’s of­fice has rec­og­nized the drought as con­tribut­ing to wild­fire dan­ger, the ad­min­is­tra­tion has only re­cently be­gun to ac­knowl­edge the im­pli­ca­tion of tree mor­tal­ity.

Lo­cal re­sources are no longer enough to ad­dress the over­whelm­ing in­crease in dead or dy­ing trees through­out the state.

A U.S. For­est Ser­vice sur­vey of about 3.6 mil­lion acres of land cov­er­ing the lower western foothills of the cen­tral and south­ern Sierra, from the Sacra­mento area south to Visalia, found more than 6 mil­lion dead trees across roughly 526,000 acres.

Tree mor­tal­ity has reached en­demic lev­els in many ar­eas. Ap­prox­i­mately 54 per­cent of all trees in Mari­posa County are dead or in de­cayed state, with an ex­pected in­crease to 72 per­cent of all trees this year.

Even if Cal­i­for­nia ex­pe­ri­ences nor­mal or high­erthan-nor­mal lev­els of pre­cip­i­ta­tion this win­ter, the dis­as­ter would con­tinue due to the high num­bers of dead trees that would fall. Fall­ing trees pose a prob­lem for power lines and a public safety risk to com­mu­ni­ties and peo­ple who visit Cal­i­for­nia’s forests.

Mari­posa, Madera, and Fresno County Boards of Su­per­vi­sors are just a few of the re­cent coun­ties in the area cov­er­ing the Sierra and Se­quoia Na­tional Forests to is­sue res­o­lu­tions stat­ing that the level of tree mor­tal­ity “has cre­ated ex­tra­or­di­nary threats to public safety,” and “ex­ceeds their func­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

State recog­ni­tion of the dis­as­ter would draw much needed at­ten­tion to the prob­lem and be­gin the process of get­ting re­sources, both state and fed­eral to the af­fected coun­ties.

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