Wednesday, September 28, 2016

San Diego’s Forests Face Possible Extinction

The forests of San Diego County that have shaded 500 generations of local people and provided pine needle bedding, oak woodland and spiritual renewal could disappear. Overly intense fires in quick succession, along with drought, borer insects and climate extremes are laying waste to trees and creating a hostile environment for regrowth. Beloved local places — the Laguna mountains, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, Palomar Mountain — could convert to chaparral or even to grasses. Some scientists mention even the Torrey pines as possibly at risk. “The people of San Diego County are going to lose all their forests in the next fire cycle,” said Richard Minnich, a fire ecologist at UC Riverside, meaning one more overheated fire in a given place. California has lost 66 million trees since 2010, the U.S. Forest Service said in June. Many of these succumbed in just the months since Gov. Jerry Brown issued a tree mortality emergency declaration last October. Cal Fire, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, estimates 52,000 trees have died from all causes in San Diego County from 2010 to 2015, 10 times as many last year as the year before...more

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