Halloween is a great time to tell scary stories. I have one to tell you, about millions upon millions of gray ghosts blackened by fire, ravaged by insects and disease, or dead from lack of water. These are Oregon’s “zombie trees.”

According to an analysis commissioned by Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) more than 350 million individual trees are standing dead in the 14 million acres of national forestland in Oregon. The bad news? The number of dead trees is expected to increase. This would provide more fuel for catastrophic wildfires such as last summer’s Eagle Creek and Chetco Bar fires that blanketed the Portland metro area and southern Oregon with unhealthy levels of smoke.

The story I’m about to tell you is about the frightening number of dead trees in our national forests. It is based on data from the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis program that was collected in 2010 and 2013 across all forestland in Oregon.

This story could have a happy ending, but it may not. To put it into context, let’s start by discussing how much forestland in Oregon is owned by the Forest Service compared to other ownership classes.

About half of Oregon is forested, totaling nearly 30 million acres, giving rise to Oregon’s reputation as a green state. Forest ownership is dominated by the federal government, which manages about 60 percent of all forestland in the state. The National Forest System (NFS) is the largest class of forestland, with 48 percent of the total. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other federal lands comprise 12 percent. Private and Native American ownership account for 36 percent, with state and local government ownership at 4 percent.

Read more on this from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute at http://oregonforests.org/blog/meet-standing-dead-oregons-zombie-trees.