A recent report from the US Forest Service says that an estimated 36.3 million trees died in California in 2022. According to the report and reporting by ABC10, the high tree death rate is due to several factors, with drought at the top of the list. Continuing drought and overcrowded forests increase the chances of trees succumbing to disease or becoming infested with beetles.
According to the Forest Service, even with the recent storms from atmospheric rivers, increased tree deaths should be expected in California’s forests until such time as precipitation returns to normal or above normal for a few years.
The survey conducted via the Aerial Detection Survey program reveals that true firs species were the most impacted, especially those in the Central and Northern Sierras. In 2021, 170,000 Douglas firs died, while in 2022 that number rose to 3 million Douglas fir deaths.
According to the Forest Service, current and future actions include the thinning of dense forests in strategic areas, spraying insecticide on the bark of high-valued trees, removing trees hazardous to public safety, and ongoing monitoring of landscape conditions.