The USDA Forest Service estimates that 129 million trees have died from drought-related insect infestation since 2010.   Bark beetles are native to California and attack trees under stress.  They are normally found in low numbers, but will on occasion reach epidemic levels in extreme weather conditions. 

Dead and dying trees dramatically increase the risk of large wildfires, and create public safety hazards in Wildland Urban Interfaces, around communities, along roadways, and in our recreational areas.  The bark beetle epidemic is not going to end until California experiences either several consecutive years of normal rainfall, or the beetles run out of trees to attack, and it will take a concerted effort at the local, state, and federal levels to combat it.  The best solution is the removal of infested trees, thinning over-stocked stands of trees, and improving the overall health of California’s forested landscapes and watersheds; goals that RCRC continues to support. 

On October 30, 2015, Governor Brown issued an ongoing Proclamation of a State of Emergency regarding tree mortality which prescribes numerous actions for state agencies and local governments to expedite the removal and disposal of dead and dying hazardous trees as a result of bark beetle infestation. 

RCRC continues to partner with the state and federal governments to find solutions to the current catastrophe and to work on proactive solutions for prevention for those forests not yet affected.

Staff:   Staci Heaton