Local leaders and major agencies are working together to get our forests back

SHAVER LAKE, Calif. (KFSN) -- The look of the Sierra National Forest is changing, with 400,000 acres going from green to brown.

"It couldn't handle the drought. They were drought stressed, the bugs got em, there's just too many trees in the forest now," said Carolyn Ballard, US Forest Service.

The US Forest Service is joining Cal Fire, Southern Cal Edison, and other agencies, along with local lawmakers to look at protecting the forest and the people who live here.

"And we need to bring all the partners together, all the resources together, and try to do what we can to reduce the risk of wildfire," said Jim McDougald, Cal Fire.

At Blue Canyon Overlook, you can see the devastation first hand. Dead trees everywhere, and although we had decent rainfall this winter, officials said it still wasn't enough. The bark beetle still active, the trees, still dying.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson said,"This is a real catastrophe. What we're learning is, though, is just as we made decisions 30, 40 years ago that made things worse. We can learn from those decisions."

For instance, the fire suppression policy. Crews became good at putting out the flames, but they said that also caused a tree overgrowth. And when there's a lack of water, that's a bad combination.

"There's not enough for all of them. So they all suffer, they all become weak, so they cannot use their normal process of pitching out to stop the bug from attacking them," said Richard Bagley, So Cal Edison Forestry.

Now, they're hoping to turn things around with prescribed burns, starting this fall.

"We don't want to kill the green trees that we have. We want to do it in a way that we can actually remove some of the slash and dead trees without killing the green that we have still in the forest," said

From there, the issue goes on to Sacramento.

"The evidence is all around us. If you listen and open your eyes, you start to see why we're in this mess. And once you see why we're in this mess, you can unwind the policies," said Patterson.
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