Deadly fires across California over the past several years have shown how wildfire has become a serious public health and safety issue. Health effects from fires close to or in populated areas range from smoke exposure to drinking water contaminated by chemicals like benzene to limited options for the medically vulnerable. These kinds of threats are becoming major, statewide concerns.
- Author: Janet Hartin
Many of the landscape trees adorning urban cityscapes in Southern California are at or close to the end of their lifespans.
While several species of oak, maple, crape myrtle, ficus, magnolia and other common shade trees have a life expectancy of 50-80 years or longer in unstressed environments, few reach their full potential in cities and urban areas.
Why? In order to accommodate growing populations, cities have large areas of paved concrete and asphalt surfaces that create ‘urban heat islands (UHI)'.These hard surfaces absorb large amounts of heat that builds up during the day and is released at night, leading to much higher night temperatures in cities than in surrounding areas.