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asdf
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PostSat Sep 05, 2020 11:15 am 
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Sometimes I see whole ridges full of dead trees.  Not fire killed.  But blackened, with their limbs curled downward, draped in lichen.  Usually I have seen pine, but also have seen spruce affected.  Pasayten has many of these.  Does anyone know what this blight is?  I wish I'd have a picture to accompany this, but I couldn't find one with a look through.
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Frango
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PostSat Sep 05, 2020 11:33 am 
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I think those stands are old pine beetle kill. Not 100% sure though.
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Anne Elk
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PostMon Sep 07, 2020 3:32 pm 
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Highly recommend Empire of the Beetle by Andrew Nikiforuk, on this phenomenon.

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HikerJohn
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PostMon Sep 07, 2020 5:43 pm 
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I've been noticing a lot of dying Hemlocks and Cedars out in the forest.  They seem to be dying in patches (e.g. around Covington), but not in other areas (like around North Bend).
The trees appear to be dying from the top down, but when you look closely at them, you can't see any particular bug infestation (other than normal);
We just had a couple of big cedars taken out and the arborist says no one really knows what the issue is (other than the ubiquitous "global warming").  The trees are in different locations, some along a creek, and some on a hill, yet all affected by the same thing.

Anyone heard anything definative?  ??

yours, John
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Anne Elk
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PostMon Sep 07, 2020 7:14 pm 
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HikerJohn wrote:
I've been noticing a lot of dying Hemlocks and Cedars out in the forest.  They seem to be dying in patches (e.g. around Covington), but not in other areas (like around North Bend).  The trees appear to be dying from the top down, but when you look closely at them, you can't see any particular bug infestation (other than normal); We just had a couple of big cedars taken out and the arborist says no one really knows what the issue is (other than the ubiquitous "global warming").  The trees are in different locations, some along a creek, and some on a hill, yet all affected by the same thing. Anyone heard anything definative?

I do volunteer gardening at a Seattle park thru the King County Master Gardeners and have opportunity to observe cultivated and native forest conditions on a regular basis as well as chew the fat with a few arborists and foresters.  They concur re my feeling that the PNW has been experiencing extensive drought conditions for quite a few years now: not necessarily measured in terms of total annual precipitation, but overall the ground not getting and staying saturated enough relative to what historical conditions were that supported native flora.

I found the Palmer Drought Index a tool which, while not perfect,  accurately reflects what the plants show - we're parched. From the article:  "The Palmer Drought Index is based on a supply-and-demand model of soil moisture. Supply is comparatively straightforward to calculate, but demand is more complicated as it depends on many factors, not just temperature and the amount of moisture in the soil but also hard-to-calibrate factors including evapotranspiration and recharge rates. Palmer tried to overcome these difficulties by developing an algorithm that approximated them based on the most readily available data, precipitation and temperature. The index has proven most effective in determining long-term drought, a matter of several months, but it is not as good with conditions over a matter of weeks."

I used historical Palmer Drought Index Maps and tallied the months of drought for western Washington from 2015-2019.  We had 7 months of moderate or severe drought in 2015, two moderate drought months in 2016, one in 2017, and then 6 months of moderate or severe drought in 2018.  The shocker was 2019 - 9 months of severe and 3 months of moderate drought,  many of these months including the west side of the Olympic peninsula.  There were no months of "extremely moist" conditions and only one "very moist" month during those 5 years.  The deeper layers of our soils are gradually drying out, and the plants can't hack it. 

That's my non-professional but boots-on-the-ground POV. We volunteer gardeners must spend a lot of time watering in the summer, and we observe a lot of the soils getting so dry they become hydrophobic.

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Brushbuffalo
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PostMon Sep 07, 2020 8:01 pm 
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I have 5 acres of mostly wooded land outside of Bellingham. In the past few years ( 3? 5?) we have had a number of Western Red Cedars die, but except for one(chest diameter about 18") all have been small...about 6" -8" diameter. We have also.had a number of well-established grand firs die.

I think Anne Elk has provided data that give a reasonable cause: drought.

The older trees seem to be more resistant to drought. We have lived on this acreage for 41 years and this die- off is the first we've seen here.

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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Anne Elk
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PostTue Sep 08, 2020 7:51 am 
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A related phenomenon that many here are likely familiar with is the sword fern die-off:

Are extreme temps contributing to the Seward Park sword fern die-off?

Ferns are dying in Kitsap forests

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hikermike
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PostThu Sep 10, 2020 10:09 pm 
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Drought=damaged trees close off pores= exude ethylene gas=attracts bark beetles=trees unable to plug holes with pitch due to dehydration=more ethylene gas escape=more beetles disrupt channels under bark=kills tree.
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Malachai Constant
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PostThu Sep 10, 2020 10:55 pm 
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In the last wind storm which brought in the smoke we had a lot of big leaf maples shed branches. The leaves while green were shriveled. The branches themselves were brittle and you could easily break them by hand. This seams atypical for early September. Is there any explanation or have I just not noticed it this year?

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slowbutsteady
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PostFri Sep 11, 2020 11:51 am 
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It's not you. Bigleaf maples are in trouble here.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/some-of-washingtons-biggest-trees-are-dying-and-scientists-dont-know-why/

https://dnrtreelink.wordpress.com/2019/02/06/bigleaf-maple-decline-results-of-uw-study/
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ale_capone
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PostSun Sep 13, 2020 10:59 am 
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The trees around our neighborhood have been dying off.  Only the first.  They look fine, then die quickly. Usually notice the top first. They are about 40 to 70 years old and originally planted to be harvested.. We had an arborist come to inspect.

He said it was most likely drought related. Trees that where in or near landscaping where healthy due to watering. Possible that the trees planted where low sap producing too. So that makes them less insect resitent. There is patterns of something boring under the bark.  He also suggested thinning select trees..
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