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Sierra tree deaths highest since Forest Service survey began




Tree mortality is at its worst since aerial surveys began in 2001, according to scientists. Photo by Steve Dunsky, courtesy of US Forest Service.
Tree mortality is at its worst since aerial surveys began in 2001, according to scientists. Photo by Steve Dunsky, courtesy of US Forest Service.
Photo by Steve Dunsky, Forest Service

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Trees in the Sierras are dying at rates faster than at anytime in at least 15 years. In fact, scientists say they haven't seen it this bad since they started doing surveys back in 2001.

The cause? California's ongoing drought and persistent pests known generally as bark beetles. Those are the findings from the latest aerial survey from the U.S. Forest Service, which estimates that more than 27 million trees died in 2015.

A view of the California Sierras showing tree mortality. Scientists say primary causes are drought and pests.
A view of the California Sierras showing tree mortality. Scientists say primary causes are drought and pests.
Photo by Steve Dunsky, Courtesy of the Forest Service

For more, we're joined by Jeff Moore, regional aerial survey program manager for the Forest Service.