Drought has triggered another environmental disaster: a bug infestation. The epidemic has claimed the lives of over 60 million trees in the Sierra Nevada region of California over the last 5 years.  Excessive heat and prolonged periods of drought have given rise to bark beetles. Smaller than the tip of your pencil, these beetles have systematically destroyed the forest from the inside out. The wide-spread tree decay has sparked concerns related to wildfires that can devastate an already arid region.
Without adequate moisture, trees have been left weak and vulnerable; unable to properly defend against an attack. An article on WDTinc.com says “bark beetles are small wood-boring insects that tunnel under the bark of trees.”  Healthy trees are normally not harmed, but the Californian drought has caused deaths among millions – increasing the risk of wildfires.
While this deadly beetle has been wreaking havoc for quite some time, nearly 40% of the deaths were reported in just the last eight months.  US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement, “Tree die-offs of this magnitude are unprecedented and increase the risk of catastrophic wildfires that puts property and lives at risk.”  He continued, “…the fire risk is currently the most extreme in California because of the tree mortality.” 
Drought has the ability to exponentially increase damaging effects related environmental constraints. The lack of water in the Sierra Nevada region has left the forest vulnerable to a predator it usually could defend against. As a result, the declining forest has opened the state to a potentially deadly wildfire. Efforts have been made to remove the dead trees; however, the forest will maintain its rapid decline and increase wildfire risk as the drought continues.
 Raphael, John. Tree die-offs of this magnitude are unprecedented and increase the risk of catastrophic wildfires that puts property and lives at risk. Nature World News, June 28, 2016. Web. http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/24368/20160628/over-60-million-trees-southern-sierra-nevada-dead-due-drought.htm  CBS Sacramento. Feds: Drought Kills 66 Million Trees In California’s Sierra. Associated Press, June 22, 2016. Web. http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2016/06/22/feds-drought-kills-66-million-trees-in-californias-sierra/  Thompson, Daphne. Drought and Bark Beetles – A Sierra Nevada Nightmare. WDTinc.com, June 27, 2016. Web. http://blog.wdtinc.com/drought-and-bark-beetles-a-sierra-nevada-nightmare  US Forest Service. Forest Service Survey Finds Record 66 Million Dead Trees in Southern Sierra Nevada. US Forest Service, June 22, 2016. Web. http://www.fs.fed.us/news/releases/forest-service-survey-finds-record-66-million-dead-trees-southern-sierra-nevada