By Dana M. Nichols, Record Staff Writer

McCLELLAN – Water, wood, clean air, hunting and hiking have long been a birthright for Californians, thanks to the state’s vast mountain forests.

Yet those same forests are dying. Federal forestry officials say the decline of the forests has many causes, including pine beetles, climate change, human population growth and catastrophic wildfires made possible by misguided tree-plantation and fire-suppression policies.

Thursday, those same officials widened the discussion about what to do about the decline.

Federal scientists and foresters said they sounded the alarm a few years ago when they realized that California forests – and their capacity to sequester carbon from the atmosphere – appear headed for a collapse sometime around 2050 if present patterns continue.

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