MONROVIA (CBS/AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown says dead trees around the state pose a fire hazard and has declared a state of emergency.
Brown is calling for the swift removal of dried-out trees and has requested federal resources to help with the process before the fall and winter wildfire season.
"California is facing the worst epidemic of tree mortality in its modern history," Governor Brown said in a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "A crisis of this magnitude demands action on all fronts."
He says California's trees, which were also made susceptible to infestation by native bark beetles, pose dangers in strong storms, either from falling or as floating debris.
A dead-tree census by the U.S. Forest Service found that 22 million trees have died during California's four-year drought, and tens of millions more are expected to follow.
Brown has asked state agencies to identify the areas where dead trees pose the highest risks.
Arborist John Lynch says some trees are so stressed that even rain won't help.
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