Since October 2020, we have seen sudden tree mortality and dieback in many different species of trees, including eucalyptus, acacia, bay, and pine. The most significant Regional Parks impacted are Anthony Chabot, Reinhardt Redwood, and Tilden. So far, we have tracked approximately 1000 acres of tree die-off.
Sudden tree mortality and dieback is a major regional issue given its impacts on wildfire risks. Dead standing trees burn hotter, faster, and have the ability to cast embers far ahead of the original fire – igniting dangerous new fires or spot fires. Additionally, many of the areas impacted are in old eucalyptus groves, which have a very high tree density.
The cause of tree mortality and dieback is not fully known but most likely has a direct correlation to drought caused by climate change. We are also working in partnership with the United States Forest Service (USFS), UC Berkeley, and CAL FIRE to determine the cause.
The Park District has created a Tree Mortality Task Force including staff from the General Manager's Office, Fire, Stewardship and Operations departments. The Task Force is developing a plan to strategize and treat some of the affected areas in the regional parks.
Because of the serious implications for wildfire protection, the Park District Fire and Stewardship departments are partnering with researchers, scientists, and foresters with the United States Forest Service, California Department of Food and Agriculture, UC Berkeley, and CAL FIRE resource management in Sacramento to study the causes. Fire Chief Aileen Theile is the District’s lead on the project.
The General Manager’s Office is leading the effort to raise awareness with Governor Newsom and state legislators, seeking urgent financial support to eradicate this additional fire threat in the East Bay Hills.