Since October, the Sierra Nevada has lost 26 million trees to drought, heat and bark beetles, leaving California at increased risk for wildfire.
From the in-depth Los Angeles Times story:
The dire estimate offered Wednesday by federal officials brings the loss of trees since 2010 to at least 66 million, a number that is expected to increase considerably throughout the year, despite an average winter of rain and snow that brought some relief to urban Californians.
“Tree dies-offs of this magnitude are unprecedented and increase the risk of catastrophic wildfires that puts property and lives at risk,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.
U.S. Forest officials say 40 million trees died between 2010 and late 2015. In October, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency and formed a tree-mortality task force to help mobilize additional resources for the safe removal of fallen and dying trees.
Read the full article for more information on what the Forest Service is doing to combat the problem, and for an excellent graphic illustrating where the tree die-offs have occurred.