I used to wonder if watering trees around the cabin was a bad idea.
Did it make them expect water and therefore have shallower root systems? Did it weaken them against drought if nobody watered them? Etc and so on.
In the case of the great California Conifer Massacre of 2016, the pines around the cabin which have been watered the last few springs and summers are healthy and bearing pine cones, while the surrounding pines are going from green to gold to brown and dead at a frightening pace, mere days in some cases.
I noticed that some of the dying trees were sparkling as with dew in the morning sun. It was from the sap flowing to ward off the bark beetles.
I was just down at the bottom of the hill by the road, and there are five 100 foot tall pines by the electrical lines which need to come down.
Steve Costa’s crew started work a couple days ago. They’ve already taken down some of the cedars I marked in May. Logging is really hard on the ground here, the soil is clay dust and the tractors just tear it up. It will take a couple years for the place to heal.
The bark beetles seem to be moving east across our place, munching their way to Yosemite. I got up here Friday and have spent the last couple of days tromping around and checking out the extent of the damage here.
It’s just mind-blowing and heartbreaking. We’re going to lose at least half the pines and cedars, hundreds and hundreds of trees which will need to be cut down and disposed of.
Estimates of the number of dead trees in the whole state are now up to around 70 million.
How will that fact manifest down the road? Salvage logging will probably cause lumber prices to hit an all time low. But what about the loss of 70 million carbon storehouses removed from the environment over the next couple/few years?
The area has evolved against a backdrop of periodic fires, and if this time the burning is caused not by flame but by lack of rain and a beetle smaller than a grain of rice, the conifers will still bounce back over time and by design.
I know this in my head, and can see the little pines and cedars bursting up towards the sun, sometimes an inch or so tall, all around me as I trudge around whole groves of dying trees. But, dang!
It’s hard to foresee what our place is going to look like in the next couple of years. It’s hard to foresee the changes to California.