Auburn, Calif. -The Placer County Board of Supervisors proclaimed a local emergency for the high number of dead and dying trees across the county.
The move follows Governor Jerry Brown’s emergency declaration and seeks federal resources to help in the removal of dead and dying trees.
After four years of drought, many of California’s trees are extremely susceptible to bark beetle infestation.
The beetles are attracted to drought-affected trees and are easily able to burrow under the bark and lay eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed off phloem and continue to bore further into the timber, eventually infesting and killing the entire tree.
Once infested, often times the tree is unable to recover, creating dangerous, dry fuel for fires and creating a falling hazard, as well.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, last year in California, over 2 million trees died from bark beetles across 820,000 acres. That’s double the number of trees killed by beetles in 2013.
Currently, the drought and native bark beetle infestations are killing close to 20 percent of the state’s forests, or roughly 170 million trees.
As National Forest lands comprise over one-third of Placer County, this situation is of particular concern.
“We are working hard to develop a strategy for reducing our risk from this hazard, but meanwhile, everyone can help by practicing defensible space, removing dead and dying trees on or around their homes and following CAL FIRE recommendations,” said Placer County Office of Emergency Services Program Manager John McEldowney.
One of the services that Placer County provides is the chipper program, a low-cost, residential chipping service to help landowners manage vegetation and meet defensible space guidelines.