Southern California Beetle Infestation
Years of severe drought have left the forests of San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties in Southern California significantly stressed and vulnerable to a bark beetle infestation that has created millions of dead and dying trees. The latest aerial surveys estimate that over two-thirds of the Southern California forests have suffered above normal tree mortality due to drought and insects.
This created an extreme fire hazard resulting in the Governor declaring a State of Emergency on March 7, 2003, and extensive multi-agency, community, landowner, and resident efforts to reduce the fire threat, and to plan for the possibility of wildfire. By declaring a State of Emergency the Governor reduced "red tape" and provided landowners with the regulatory relief necessary to quickly remove dead and dying trees from their property.
It is the responsibility of the property owner on private property to remove bark beetle infested trees, and due to the extreme fire danger, and the danger of falling trees, officials encourage prompt removal of dead standing trees. Don't wait to receive a notice requiring their removal. Contact a licensed contractor for tree removal and trimming.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has been taking steps to protect public safety identifying significant evacuation routes into and out of these hard hit areas. These routes would be used in the event of a wildfire not only for evacuation of residents but also for response by emergency vehicles. Local CAL FIRE Units are also working with communities to identify fire safe evacuation centers such as schools and community centers that would be safe locations for residents to go in the event of a wildfire. CAL FIRE conservation camp crews have been busy removing trees that might be susceptible to falling and blocking evacuation routes, or threaten evacuation centers.
The magnitude of the problem has necessitated a multi agency state, federal, and local government response. The links on this site provide information about the Bark Beetle infestation, and the community, resident, landowner, and multi-agency effort underway.