Sitting at my kitchen table this morning looking out at the snow, I’m reflecting on global warming and our prospects of another hot and dry summer here in Pierce County . . . and what this means to our environment.
I was just reviewing the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Forest Health Program from March 2017. The news wasn’t good: Approximately 2.4 million trees were recorded as recently killed in 2016. You can download the report here – www.dnr.wa.gov/publications/rp_fh_2016_forest_health_highlights.pdf
A little over a hundred years ago we were killing the trees and making lumber. Things change.
There were huge forrest fires in 2015, but these areas aren’t surveyed until after two years, so hopefully more details will be revealed in the next report. But I’m remembering the smokey days of late summer in 2017. We have a nice view of Vashon Island and Northeast Tacoma, but for a couple of weeks in August and September we couldn’t even see the water due to fires in Canada and Washington. I’m willing to bet the latest news will not be good.
As our weather changes, our environment changes and here in the Pacific Northwest we still have lots of Douglas Firs and cedars that can cause damage to our homes, our businesses and our people. However, don’t just rush out and grab a chain saw. When we removed a sixty-five foot cedar tree near the corner of our home, we first called Dan Folk of Apex Tree Experts (253-227-9775) to survey several trees in our yard. As he examined a fruit tree, a chunk of trunk came off in his hand. It was close to the house, so it had to go. He also reported that our Mountain Ash was in danger. Last summer we took steps to protect it. – thesubtimes.com/2017/11/05/saving-a-mountain-ash-for-my-wife/
Firs, pines, and cedars suffer from the heat just as we do. I saved my our Mountain Ash by selective watering. This is not practical with towering conifers. They are pretty much on their own. I remember driving to a play at Lakes High School during a fall storm. The short drive from the freeway and the Tacoma Country and Golf Club to Lakes felt like ducking and sidestepping my way through a war zone. I swerved and dodged tree limb debris as I tightly gripped my steering wheel. High winds topple trees and rip off half-dead boughs causing destruction and damage to anything below them. Automobiles and wooden structures don’t provide much protection from tree trunks.
Just across our driveway is a pine tree which lost it’s top several years ago. It’s no longer tall enough to damage our home, but it could still reach our prized madrona or our vehicles. I think the summer droughts are affecting it. Perhaps the August of 2018 will be its last.
Last summer, fellow writer Joe Boyle wrote about “hedges and other bushes drying up and turning brown all over Lakewood.” I don’t think there will ever be killer hedges, but the pine tree and my twenty foot tall laurel hedge are begining to worry me.