As we start the last month of the year, the landscape around us is going through its annual change that takes place during this time. Leaves have changed color and quickly taken their place on the ground.

The telltale smell of wood stoves in the early morning and evening brings warm thoughts. Darkness comes much too early with the recent time change.

The deer that seemed to disappear during October hunting season have ventured back to their usual places on the Hill and around town.

While we expect these things to happen this time every year, something else that has become a common sight throughout this year has been the number of trees slowly turning brown.

The number of dead or dying trees that are evident all across the Hill show that our years of drought continue to stress these giants that rely on a greater amount of annual water than we have had. This has allowed different types of bugs, mostly bark beetles, to further their demise.

The drought is also affecting the oak trees, which the Gold-spotted oak borer continues to assault. This bug continues to move through the oaks and is usually fatal to this tree within years after infestation.

The Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council, along with the local foresters of both Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service, are planning a community meeting on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. The purpose is to bring information, updates and an explanation of past and future projects to the public about our forest.  Speakers from the University of California, Riverside, will participate.

Mark your calendar and watch for the location of this educational meeting.