Q&A on the News

Q: I was reading about the 66 million dead trees in California. Nobody wants 66 million dead trees? Why don’t they set up a mill and salvage the trees to make lumber out of them?

—Eddie Webster, Douglasville

A: The remaining mills in California are already filled with wood from past years and many counties containing the dead trees don't have the money to have them cut and removed.

Also, much of the wood can’t be made into lumber because it’s “rotted or stained blue from beetle infestation,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this month.

The 66 million dead trees in California are extremely susceptible to forest fires, and property owners, in some cases, are taking on the expense of having them removed from their land.

At least four years of severe drought has killed many of the trees, including 26 million discovered since October in six California counties — Fresno, Kern, Madera, Mariposa, Tuolumne and Tulare – according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The state has provided funds to help the counties, but the “financing requires a 25 percent match, though, only so much has gotten done,” the Chronicle reported.

“A lot of these trees are sitting alongside the road because there’s not a place for them to go,” the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Len Nielson told the paper.

There are several active forest fires in California.

Andy Johnston with Fast Copy News Service wrote this column. Do you have a question? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).