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Re: Upper Pines Tragedy

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Upper Pines Tragedy
August 14, 2015 01:29PM
"Date: August 14, 2015
At approximately 5:00 a.m. this morning, a limb from an oak tree fell in Upper Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley, striking a tent in which two minors were sleeping. Park Rangers responded to the campground to provide medical assistance, yet both minors were deceased.

The names, ages, and places of residence of the victims are not being released. The incident remains under investigation.

"Our thoughts are with the families as they grieve this tragedy," stated park Superintendent Don Neubacher."



http://www.nps.gov/yose/learn/news/fallen-tree-limb-causes-two-fatalities-in-yosemite-national-park.htm
Re: Upper Pines Tragedy
August 14, 2015 01:48PM
How sad. To go on vacation and for that to happen. My thoughts are with their family and friends.
avatar Fallen Tree Limb Causes Two Fatalities in Yosemite National Park
August 14, 2015 05:34PM
At approximately 5:00 a.m. this morning, a limb from an oak tree fell in Upper Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley, striking a tent in which two minors were sleeping. Park Rangers responded to the campground to provide medical assistance, yet both minors were deceased. The names, ages, and places of residence of the victims are not being released. The incident remains under investigation.

"Our thoughts are with the families as they grieve this tragedy," stated park Superintendent Don Neubacher.
avatar Re: Upper Pines Tragedy
August 14, 2015 06:06PM
I don't think I could go home after that.
Re: Upper Pines Tragedy
August 15, 2015 09:33AM
Somebody will demand to kill the tree - just wait.
avatar Re: Upper Pines Tragedy
August 15, 2015 11:21AM
Quote
AnotherDave
Somebody will demand to kill the tree - just wait.

There's a good chance a large portion of that oak tree will be pruned, if not removed in its entirety.

Every spring, NPS goes through the campgrounds pruning or removing trees they feel have become risks to the campers. Unfortunately, it's not the easiest job to determine which trees or limbs need to be pruned. But there would be a lot more of these tragedies if the Park Service wasn't as diligent and proactive as they already are.

.
avatar Re: Upper Pines Tragedy
August 15, 2015 06:07PM
Quote
AnotherDave
Somebody will demand to kill the tree - just wait.
I doubt that. I guess someone that was drunk, on drugs, and senile, might, but no sane person would even consider such a thing.
Re: Upper Pines Tragedy
August 15, 2015 10:24PM
Quote
AnotherDave
Somebody will demand to kill the tree - just wait.

I was just reading the Yellowstone FB controversy over the killing of the grizzly that killed and ate a hiker and someone there thought that the tree branch incident happened in Yellowstone and asked if they were going to cut down the tree since it also killed humans like the bear did.
avatar Re: Upper Pines Tragedy
August 16, 2015 08:08AM
Here is a link to an article in today's Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Death-of-two-teens-shows-Yosemite-still-holds-its-6446409.php#photo-8470836

Here is the location of the campsite I copied from the Rec.gov site:

If the above pic didn't open correctly just follow this link instead: https://plus.google.com/photos/105287345173567749593/albums/6183624848436446817/6183624847756069858?cfem=1&pid=6183624847756069858&oid=105287345173567749593

Steve
Re: Upper Pines Tragedy
August 16, 2015 10:29PM
This is a tragedy for the family -- and our prayers are with them as they try to find a way forward.

Unfortunately, the reality is that there is a much greater risk of harm to life in our metropolitan civilized cities -- than in our outdoor recreation areas.

One of the quotes in one of the news accounts is from a NP spokesperson, who basically states that the current 4 year drought has nothing to do with this incident.

I do not believe this is an accurate statement.

We are impacted by a severe lack of water -- which in turn has weakened all trees in the forest, reduced sap production which is one way trees ward off insects, along with dry and brittle limbs, trunks and roots.

The Pine Beetle infestation is able to attack pine trees that cannot produce enough sap to protect against the beetle. This is the tree's main system of protection and good health.

This is only affecting the pine trees -- not the Oaks, Cedars, and all of the others. However, the lack of moisture for the last 4 years has severely weakened all types of trees, brush, and plants in the forest.

We live at 4400', in the Sierra National Forest -- just about halfway between Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Our 2.5 acres has a nice mix of Pine, Cedar, Manzanita, and Black Oak trees. We have at least 12 trees that must come down before Winter due to Beetle, or dead due to a lack of moisture.

In talking with a professional forester who does work with the Forest Service and Cal-Fire -- I mentioned that I had read a piece in the paper stating that the Forest Service has estimated there are over 5,000,000 dead or dying pine trees in just the Sierra National Forest. He said they had just completed an aerial survey using pics and computers to establish the scope of the beetle infestation -- and have identified 44,000,000 pine trees in the SNF, that are dead or dying. When I asked him if we were going to lose all of the pines in the forest -- he stated that the forest is very resilient -- and although this level of drought with dead and dying trees has never been encountered before -- the forest will survive.

Today, at 2:01 PM, this afternoon -- one of our Black Oak trees just broke in the middle of its trunk -- about 25' up from the ground. From the outside, this tree appeared healthy -- green leaves, good canopy, no apparent issues. Likely around 100 years old. We feel due to the weakened condition due to lack of moisture -- this tree just broke in half -- no wind. This tree was more than 3 feet at the base -- not counting the burl growths on each side.

Tomorrow or Tuesday, we will have a pro inspect the tree -- we have two others closer to our house of about the same vintage -- and they unfortunately may need to come down for safety's sake.

This tree may have been already weak or older -- but the lack of moisture sped along it's demise. I know all trees die eventually -- but there are too many conditions happening at one time to ignore this issue..

Best,

Fred

avatar Re: Upper Pines Tragedy
August 16, 2015 11:20PM
Your theory could apply to oaks that aren't near a year-round water source, but the oak tree in question at the Upper Pines campground is located close enough to the Merced River (that never runs dry) that our current drought shouldn't have been a factor in regards to its branch falling.
Re: Upper Pines Tragedy
August 17, 2015 06:59PM
I agree with Plawrence. I work with trees in the central valley as part of my job. Oaks are very good at adapting to drought. If you water them in the summer you can kill them. In the Arbor industry people joke that when an oak starts growing it starts decaying. It may take 100 years to die but it is always decaying. Most oak tree branch failures are in hot summer weather with no wind or weather conditions involved. The trees take on more water to combat the heat which increases branch weight and causes failure. It is hard to predict and often even healthy limbs break. It is not uncommon for trees to fail in the summertime and I do recall of a couple instances in Sacramento area parks where oaks have injured or killed park visitors. In the summer it is usually limb failures like the one in Yosemite and the winter we see whole tree failures. We had one huge blue oak this spring that fell on a playground structure and picnic table that would have killed people but luckily no one was under it at the time. We had an arborist check it a couple of years ago and declared it healthy. I'm sure the park service does the best they can in removing hazard trees in the campgrounds. This was just a tragic unpredictable accident.

I'm a backpacker and always look at the trees before I pitch a tent. Still I probably would have put my tent where those kids were.
Re: Upper Pines Tragedy
August 17, 2015 07:57PM
This tragedy broke my heart. We camp in upper pines often and this was a family, out enjoying Yosemite. It is just truly heart-breaking.

Thanks apeman for the explanation regarding heat. We have some land in Sonoma County and many large oak trees on it. I have noticed during the past few years that most times that we've lost a huge branch, it's been during a heat wave. I had no idea why, as the trees seemed otherwise healthy. We have brought in arborists to look around and point out weak trees, and these trees were not considered weak. What we have done is trim away the large branches at least in the areas where we sit regularly. but we can't trim all the big oaks; that's part of the beauty of the land.

But this case was still so sad.
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