OLYMPIA--State forest managers say young Douglas-fir trees throughout Western Washington are showing signs of weakness going into fire season.

Karen Ripley, a forest health manager with the Washington Department of Natural Resources, said her team is finding several dying young trees and many red branches on larger firs. Many landowners are reporting the same problem. Ripley said trees with both red and green branches showing bright green tips will probably be OK.

Today she found evidence of destructive beetles in some affected trees but explained last summer s dry spell, not bugs are to blame. She said we always get a northwest drought in the summer and it helps keep our forests healthy, but in severe periods like last summer, it starts to kill off firs growing in certain rocky and prairie areas.

It s normal and part of a healthy system, but she warned it can aggravate what is already forecasted to be an earlier-than-normal fire season in Western Washington.

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