Tree Mortality - Replanting After the Trees Die
The Issue: California, and the Sierra Nevada in particular, is experiencing an unprecedented die off of trees on both private and public lands. Aerial survey in 2016 showed that over 102 million have died in the last four years of drought, including over 62 million in 2016 alone. Die off of trees at this scale is a result of two intertwining factors, the historic drought and the overstocked condition of our forests and woodlands. Decades of fire suppression and harvesting of the largest and most resilient trees means that the Sierran landscape has become overcrowded with vegetation vulnerable to wildfire and insect epidemics.
Throughout the Sierra, landowners have lost trees, leaving them wondering what to replant. Current assistance and outreach programs, through state and county based tree mortality task forces, have been focused on assisting local jurisdictions and landowners to remove and dispose of hazard trees. CalFire is beginning to offer reforestation assistance to landowners who qualify for the California Forest Improvement Program (CFIP). This assistance, while valuable, has been limited to date and only those with at least 20 acres of land are eligible to apply for the funds.
There have been no efforts to assist or guide landowners of smaller parcels on how or if to revegetate after tree die off. Without some clear guidance, individuals may choose to forego replanting of conifers in the mistaken belief that this mortality event means conifers have no place in the Sierra landscape. This may lead to increased introduction of non-adapted species and a loss of forest ecosystem function and services.
The Solution: Utilizing the expansive network of UCCE Master Gardener Volunteers to provide guidance to small parcel owners, local jurisdictions, NGOs, home owners associations, and interested others on revegetation/reforestation after tree mortality in the Sierra Nevada. Currently Master Gardener volunteers throughout the region are being asked “what do I plant now that all the conifers are dead?”
Train the Trainer workshop: UCCE Master Gardeners from a county affected by tree mortality including but not limited to Plumas, Sierra, Placer, Nevada, El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Mariposa, Merced, Madera and Fresno counties were invited to attend.Two regional workshops were held:
- El Dorado County on June 6, 2017, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm Sly Park Environmental Education 5600 Sly Park Rd, Pollock Pines, CA 95726
- Tuolumne County on June 14, 2017, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Tuolumne County Ambulance Headquarters, 18440 Striker Court, Sonora, CA 95370
- Madera County on October 20th, 2017, 9:00 to 3:00, Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church, 39696 Highway 41, Oakhurst, CA 93644 - Register online.
Download workshop flyer: Tree Moratlity Workshop Flyer - Oakhurst
Download workshop materials and presentations
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