If you’ve been walking the trails in Cheasty and have noticed the numerous dead western red cedars, this will help explain what is going on.Hi folks--I have a few things to talk with you about over the next few day. First up I have a forest health alert for you. How many of you are seeing dead western redcedars like this? Probably all of you if you're paying attention. What's going on? This appears to be mortality from cumulative drought stress. Our trees are highly stressed from repeated summers of record heat and drought. Western redcedar has low drought tolerance and so this species has been particularly hard-hit.
We are thinking that many of these trees actually died at the end of last summer when we hit a new record for days without rain. However, this was followed by a very wet winter and spring, so the trees stayed green. Once things began to heat up in May, the dead trees then rapidly dried out and turned brown such that now we can finally see the damage from last summer. This is why all these dead trees appeared so suddenly.
What should you do? Right now, there's nothing to do unless you need to remove a dead tree that is posing a hazard. I have some additional info to share with you about hemlocks and other drought stuff over the next few days. In the meantime, we should start thinking about learning to tolerate seeing more dead trees, as this is the cycle we are in right now. Be concerned? Yes. Panic? No.
Photo credit: Chuck Pettis from Whidbey Island ...