Based on the recent reports, over 102 million trees were killed by drought in California, increasing the risk of a devastating wildfire, and other environmental consequences that would affect humans as well.
During the previous aerial survey conducted by the United States Forest Service, the experts established that since May, 36 million trees had been severely affected by drought, whereas the total number of the dead trees is twice as high as last year.
According to Tom Vilsack, the United States Agriculture Secretary, every dying and dead tree poses a threat to the forest because it contributes to the increasing risk of wildfires. If such a cataclysmic event would be triggered, then the officials would have a hard time trying to contain it.
He continued by saying that these wildfires are not just hard to contain, but they also represent a threat to property and life. Specialists explain that California has already suffered five years of drought caused by the warm temperatures and the low snowpack in the mountains.
Last year, Governor Jerry Brown assigned a task force to remove the dead and dying trees which posed a threat to local communities and motorists. Vilsack requests the Congress’ help, underlining that a major part of the federal funding is used to fight wildfires instead of strengthening forestry management.
In other words, if this money is used to remove dead trees, the average health of California’s forests will significantly improve.
It is worth mentioning that drought does not just increase the risk of wildfires, but it also facilitates a potential bark beetle infestation. This parasite thrives in these conditions where trees are dried out.
The current strategy used by wildlife officials is to turn as many dead trees as possible into lumber, burn them in incinerators, or to use them as energy for plants.
By doing this, they no longer represent a major factor increasing the risk of wildfires. On the other hand, some environmental conservationists say that die-offs are parts of a healthy and natural life-cycle of a forest, so these trees should be cut down and left to decompose on the forest floor naturally.
According to the officials, most dead and dying trees are in southern and central Sierra Nevada, where drought hit the hardest.
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