California Tree Mortality

dscf8596Hi everyone! This last Summer has been a long, dry, and hot experience. The drought in California has been very trying for the residents of the forested areas of California

dscf8613Many trees in California have died this summer due to the bark beetle. The trees that have died have added an increased fire threat, and we saw much of California burn up this Summer.

With the recent drought in California, the bark beetles have moved in and the water from rainfall has not been enough to move them out. Generally, the infected trees will die from the top down, with brown needles and branches visible at the top of the trees. The extended drought has allowed the bark beetles to infect and kill up to a quarter of the trees in California.

Also complicating the threat of wildfire is the fact that lumber mills have all the infested timber/lumber they can handle and that has brought the value way down removing economic motivation for falling the timber. Caltrans is more inclined to remove dead trees than dying trees, because many beetles in live partially infested trees would not survive the milling.

bark-beetleBark beetles are common pests of conifers (such as pines) and some attack broadleaf trees. Over 600 species occur in the United States and Canada with approximately 200 in California alone. Some of the most common spices here in our own mountain community in northern California are the engraver beetles, the red turpentine beetle, and the western pine beetle.

Bark beetle adults are small cylindrical, hard-bodied insects about the size of a grain of rice. Most species are dark red, brown, or black, and they have strong jaws for chewing. Larvae of most species are off-white, robust and grub-like, many having dark brown heads.

bark-beetle-holesOn the bark surface of infested branches or trunks of trees where the new adults have emerged, a buckshot pattern of holes is apparent. If you peel back the bark on infested trees, you will see galleries, or tunnels from the bark beetles’ mining and boring. This pest has caused California a tremendous amount of forest loss. So now we are all hoping for lots of rain this Winter.

When the sick trees on our property were removed, a wonderful crew of Mexican workers were hired by the State to come and fall them. Only a few of the men knew a small amount of English, and I speak a bit of Spanish, so we got along very well. After climbing, cutting and falling the infected and dead trees, the men on the crew were very hungry and thirsty.

dscf8598Foodpusher was ready with a large green salad, hot links on the smoker, chips and salsa, and a hot Lumberjack Casserole, which the men really liked and devoured.


So thank you to all my face book friends, and any readers I may still have. I will leave you with the recipe for Lumberjack Casserole, which was one of my mom’s favorite recipes to feed a hungry family of six! I have mixed it up a bit and have fed my own hungry family, and some very hungry men with this hearty dish.

Lumberjack Casserole


You will need a 9”x13” glass baking dish. You will also need:
1 Tbsp butter
4 large potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 med. onion cut in half and sliced thin
3 large cloves garlic minced
1-¼ lb. ground beef ( I use organic gr. beef from Costco)
2 tsp Mexican oregano
2 tsp salt
1-½ tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
½ cup mild salsa (your favorite brand)
2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
Sliced jalapeno peppers
Sour cream for topper (optional)

In 9×13 glass baking dish, use butter to grease the bottom and sides of the dish you have selected

Then layer half of the sliced potatoes on the bottom of the dish, Then follow with half of the onions

Now crumble half of the meat(raw) over the potato onion layer covering all the layer with some crumbled meat, spice this layer with ½ of the herbs, and salt and pepper. Pour half of the can of diced tomatoes evenly over the first layer and pour a can of tomato sauce over this letting it sink to the bottom of the pan a bit.

Now repeat this layer with another layer of potatoes and onions, and the other can of tomato sauce making sure all sauce goes down into the potatoes (use a fork to help sauce sink in around the top layer of potatoes.

Salt and pepper top layer to taste. Bake in 350’ oven for an hour-and-a-half.

Let stand for 10 minutes. Serve with jalapeno peppers and sour cream. Serve and smile when you see your family enjoy this hearty dish.

Until next time, Savor and Enjoy! Love to Y’all!

The Foodpusher.

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