Due to California’s six year drought, there has been a total of 102 million dead trees across 7.7 million acres of forest, a very high number of deaths. This lack of rain has lead to a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and warmer temperatures. The U.S Forest Service announced that a total of 62 million trees died just in the year of 2016. This was an increase of more than 100% deaths from 2015. A member of the U.S Forest Service said that the trees are dying a rate much quicker than what they expected due to the drought.
Most of these dead trees are located in the southern and central Sierra Nevada region in 10 counties. Driving in that area and looking into the hillside is a pretty scary and surprising sight to look at considering that they are mostly dead trees. The U.S Forest Service also predicts that even more trees will die in the coming months and years due to not only drought but along with it, root diseases, bark beetle activity, or other stress agents. The tree deaths are on a rise mostly in the northern regions.
There have even been concerns that now these dead trees can spark much more destructive wildfires in the state of California. Although these trees elevate the risk of wildfire, complicate efforts to respond safely and effectively to fires, and pose threats to life and property across California, they also have some pros such as providing great habitat for wildlife, such as birds and mammals that make their homes in openings carved within snags, and while wood-boring insects that feed on those snags. This basically makes the foundation of the food chain for a larger web of forest life.