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'Even if we got some rain this winter, we're going to see some trees dying'

Trees sitting on shallow soil are dying from a lack of moisture, mainly found on ridge tops within the Willamette Valley Fringe area. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - We haven’t seen measurable rainfall for nearly three months.

And experts say it’s starting to affect our forests.

“Beginning in the spring, and through now, the drought has really intensified in Oregon,” Oregon State University Professor David Shaw says.

RELATED | Dry spell in Eugene ties 3rd longest on record: Will 2018 set a new record?

Shaw says 90 degree days and hardly any precipitation has put nearly half of Lane County in an extreme drought.

“Hotter temperature, warmer air can hold more water, so the hotter the air the more water that could actually be held in the air,” he says.

Meaning less moisture for trees, in addition to getting little rain.

NBC16 went to OSU’s McDonald-Dunn Research Forest, where Douglas-fir trees are producing stress cones.

“It’s their last ditch effort to perpetuate themselves and usually after that then they die,” OSU Professor Stephen Fitzgerald says.

He says trees sitting on shallow soil are dying from a lack of moisture, mainly found on ridge tops within the Willamette Valley Fringe area.

“So, it'd be like if we crowded a bunch of people a hundred people in a room and have them only a small amount of water,” he says.

That’s why he says getting rid of some of Oregon’s trees could be the solution.

“On some sites, long-term management may be to reduce the number of trees through thinning,” he says.

Shaw says temperatures are predicted to cool down, but future rain is still a wild card.

“Like spring, even if we got some rain this winter, we're going to see some trees dying,” Shaw says.

Leaving the future of our trees uncertain.

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