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Considering California’s Tree Policies Amid Mass Die-Off

U.S. Forest Service aerial survey of the Cleveland and San Bernardino forests...

Photo by U.S. Forest Service

Above: U.S. Forest Service aerial survey of the Cleveland and San Bernardino forests, 2016.

An epidemic of tree deaths in California due to drought and bark beetles is sparking a review of state and federal policies.

The Little Hoover Commission, a state oversight board, is considering how to curb the problem, before it reshapes California’s forests.

"We hope to kind of come in and take a big picture look on policy changes the state can make," said Carole D’Elia, executive director of the commission. "Can we influence at all the United States Forest Service and federal government policies?"

D’Elia said the solution will likely include thinning trees.

"There are so many trees on each plot of land, they’re competing for the water source," she said. "And now we’ve had five years of drought, so you have more trees and less water."

RELATED: San Diego’s Forests Face Possible Extinction

The federal government controls much of California’s forest, and thinning trees would require federal buy-in.

D’Elia said the board will also consider beneficial uses for lumber from dead trees.

This month, the U.S. Forest Service found 36 million more trees died in the state than it estimated last year. Total, the department believes more than 100 million trees have died since 2010.

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