California has 66 million dead trees but nowhere to put the wood
San Fransisco Chronicle
July 1, 2016
At least 66 million trees have died in California since 2010, more than a third within the past year, according to recent estimates by the U.S. Forest Service. The die-off is the result of five years of drought that has deprived forests of water and allowed bark beetles to take advantage of the trees’ weakened condition.
PONDEROSA BASIN, Mariposa County — When Ursula Rowe returned to her mountain home after a hip replacement a few months back, the landscape had changed. Dozens of towering pine trees had browned up and died on her once-verdant plot of land near Yosemite, and she had to cough up $25,000 to remove them.
“I couldn’t see that house before,” said Rowe, pointing from her deck across 50 lifeless stumps to the properties of neighbors also littered by downed pines and piles of split wood. “I had to go out and buy blinds for my windows.”
California’s drought-driven epidemic of dead trees has ushered in a cascading crisis from the community of Ponderosa Basin in the central Sierra to towns closer to Lake Tahoe. As government agencies and private landowners race to clear trees that could supercharge wildfires, they’re ending up with a glut of wood that nobody knows what to do with.