The drought of five years, which ended in the winter of 2016-17, is chiefly responsible for the tree die-off, as lack of water weakens and kills most living things, including trees. Bark beetles have infested millions of trees, and the beetles prefer dying and dead trees. One way to control the beetle population is to control its hosts – in this case, dead trees, because while some beetles like live trees, most prefer dying or dead ones. Therefore the more dead trees that are removed, the less likelihood that the beetles will find a suitable host, thus reducing the number of beetles, thus making the tree population healthier.
Of greater importance than as a beetle host is the fact that dead trees are a great source of fuel for fires, and those are fires in which living trees also will be destroyed. The Forest Service understands the importance of removing dead trees and have taken out 480,000 of them; other agencies have cleared over 520,000 – taking the total to over one million – but that still leaves 128 million to go.
The Trump administration would like to remove many more of the trees – but the “environmental left” says no, because, it claims, climate change is the reason for the fires. This is, we suppose, because of the drought, which they also assert was caused by climate change – but they may have overlooked the fact that Governor Jerry Brown, as committed an advocate of climate change as draws a breath on this earth, declared the drought over; leaving us with the question – if climate change caused the drought, and climate change is still going on -how can the drought be over? Anyway, The President, they say, is using the dead tree issue “as an excuse to clear-cut the forests.” As Kimberly Strassel pointed out in a Wall Street Journal column – forest fires themselves do a severe job of clear-cutting; not only that, but they emit tremendous amounts of particulate matter and pollution; and the fires also destroy homes, infrastructure, wildlife and property. In addition to the dead trees, much of our publicly-owned forests are littered with limbs, branches, twigs, dead shrubs, dry grass, undergrowth – in other words, fuel for fires. And fire truly is a natural thing. In America, there were over 300,000 fires caused by lightning and other natural causes from 1992 and 2012. But – there were another 1.2 million forest fires caused by humans- through burning debris (29%), arson (21%), equipment (11%), campfires (5%) and fireworks or children playing with matches (5%). Why not log out the dead trees, or thin the forests so they will be healthier and less susceptible to major fires, control the dead understory and debris that fuels so many fires; we could revive the logging industry by allowing the private sector to harvest and thin in places; we even could have a 2018 version of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which could provide jobs and training to hundreds of thousands of people by clearing out some of those dead trees. There are many potential solutions – but the radical environmental left wants only to preserve the “natural state” at all costs. Odd that they would rather see millions of dead trees, breeding pests and disease; and see massive uncontrollable fires, destructive and with “giant carbon footprints,” instead of reasonable and responsible solutions such as offered above.
Remember: 84% of forest fires are caused by man; and when there are 129 million dead targets out there, it is only making it easier to burn.