BASS LAKE, Calif. (KFSN) --After four years of drought Cal Fire officials said the Bark Beetle population is booming forcing foresters to take down more and more trees infested with the small insects. The problem is causing Cal Fire to work around the clock to remove the dead and dying trees before fire season.
Bark Beetle larva is killing several thousand Valley pine trees at Bass Lake. So much so that forester Len Nielson with Cal Fire spent part of his Thursday afternoon cutting down, in just seconds, what once lived for more than eight decades. Nielson said the beetle epidemic in California is getting worse by the day because of the historic dry conditions. "We can see the entrance, which are the big holes in the tree, and as we turn the bark over you see all of the little holes. Those little holes are the exit holes from the barks."
An aerial shot of bass lake shows the tree mortality in just a year. Nielson said even heavy rain now, can't save the more than 5 million trees already dead in Madera County-- or the ones dying that still appear to be alive. "Most of three green trees in Mariposa and Madera County are already infested. So, unfortunately, there's little hope," said Nielson.
So now it is operation takedown. Cal Fire and the US Forest Service are on a mission to get rid of the lifeless giants before fire season rolls around. Marking the letter "X" on the ones that pose a threat to public safety. "Right now, today, we're concentrating on the high hazard zones. The areas close to infrastructure and roadways," said Nielson.
Jaime Williams said Cal Fire has awarded more than $2 million to local fire departments to help make that happen.