Throughout Western Washington, the needles on many young Douglas-fir trees have suddenly turned red this spring, and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources believes drought to be cause.
DNR’s Forest Health Program has examined affected trees at sites from Shelton to the Columbia River Gorge. Douglas-firs that are between 5 and 15 years old appear to be the most affected, but some larger trees are also showing symptoms.
In a typical year, this damage may have many causes, but this year it is primarily the result of an extended period with little to no rain during August-September and a drier than normal spring.
The majority of trees that DNR’s Forest Health Program has examined show no indication of being killed by pathogens, insects, or other animals. Fortunately, even in the hardest-hit stands, the majority of trees received adequate water and are unaffected.