It's NOT about dead trees, dense trees, or trees in a forest
Despite the fact that California's most devasting wildfires are usually many miles away from a forest with dead trees (see map above), dead trees are continually blamed in articles about wildfire in California, blaring from headlines and in quotes from those who would gain from logging and burning smashed habitat (i.e. biomass).
The most devastating fires occur where planning agencies have put communities in harm's way and because our communities are composed of flammable homes. Add climate change and we have the perfect storm.
Shrubs and trees grow. Growth is natural. In many situations, dense habitats are necessary for biodiversity. When these habitats catch fire, they burn. Fire is hot. In crown fire ecosystems like chaparral and lodgepole pine forests, nearly all above ground material is consumed by the flames. That's the natural pattern. The problem is that we've inserted ourselves in flammable habitats and still do not address the main reason homes ignite - by embers that can travel a mile or more from the fire front.
California's Tree Mortality Viewer of an area in the Cleveland National Forest the supposedly has 15-40 dead trees per acre (in red).
Dead Trees in the Chaparral?
The more we look, the more errors we find in the state's conclusions about dead trees.
The image above shows the state's Tree Mortality Viewer analysis of an area in the Cleveland National Forest above Corona, California that supposedly has the 15-40 dead trees per acre (see solid red polygon). If we use a mid range of 25 dead trees, we are talking about 12,000 dead trees in the area.
Now, compare the image with two from Google Earth below showing the same polygon outlined in white. This is a chaparral ecosystem with oaks, big cone Douglas firs, and some other species in canyon areas.
The Google images confirm our previous field observations. Dead trees are not an issue there.
The disconnect between what is on the ground and what the state says exists via their Dead Tree Viewer is not unusual. We have found the same problem in several areas in San Diego County.
The area (outlined in white) that the state claims is filled with dead trees.
A close up image of the previous image. Dead trees?