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Over 12 Million Trees Lost to California Drought

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The consequences of the four-year drought in California extend to all living things, and now we have an evaluation of the toll it’s taken on tress. According to a study by the U.S. Forest Service, approximately 12.5 million trees have died across the state during the past year as a result of the arid conditions.

Some two million died in Southern California, while another 10 million succumbed to the drought across the 4.1 million acres in the Southern Sierra Nevada. In total, an aerial survey looked at about 8.3 million acres of land.

U.S. Forest Service program manager Jeffrey Moore stressed a “very heavy mortality, a lot of discoloration in the pine trees that probably will expire sometime during this growing season, as well as oak trees that are suffering.”

Additionally, it’s pointed out that the region in San Diego County is still struggling to regain form after a 2003 Cedar Fire. As summer approaches, the dead trees and leaves provided sustenance for potential wildfires.

The lacks of trees is a serious problem as well. While a habitat and food source for a variety of species, large trees provide storage for carbon in the air.

Climatologist Brian Fuchs, working with the Nataional Drought Mitigation Centre, warned too of the decrease in water quality, as there will be an increase in runoff. He would also offer a stark realization: “When you start thinking about what it takes for a tree, which is usually a fairly hearty type of plant to die off, it’s telling you a pretty clear signal of just how intense the drought has been.”


Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service

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