While The Walking Dead terrifies millions of people every Sunday night, it’s the “standing dead” populating our woods that keeps fearful foresters up at night. In the Pacific Northwest and Rockies alike, zombie trees—those still standing but dead from fire, disease, insects, or lack of water—are mingling amid their living brethren waiting for the right time to wreak havoc. In fact, according to a recent analysis commissioned by the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, there are already more than 350 million standing dead zombie trees populating the 14 million acres of national forestland in Oregon.

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The main cause of zombie trees is unmanaged forest growth. Forests can quickly become overcrowded as existing trees grow and new sprouts are left unchecked leading to a higher mortality rate among trees. Managed forests tend to have their population controlled and unhealthy trees thinned out before they waste away to become zombies.

So what’s so scary about zombie trees? They are a major contributor to forest fires, acting as tinder or fuel for forest fires and allowing them to burn atypically hot, killing most trees and threatening watersheds and wildlife. While some fallen and dead trees are important to the ecological health of the forests—they offer habitats for wildlife, store carbon, and provide the soil with nutrients as they decompose—the risk of too many zombie trees far outweighs the benefits in most cases.

One of the best defenses against a "zombie tree apocalypse" is active and sustainable forest management, and Alliance and Primex forestry tires are here to help in the battle. Tires like the Alliance 342 offers everything loggers need for thinning forests in the harshest landscapes. With a massive tread pattern reinforced with small shoulder lugs, the Alliance 342 is capable of working in thick, overgrown forests, on steep slopes, and anywhere else it has to go. Steel reinforcement under the lugs and a special chip- and chunk-resistant compound enables the tire to handle dangerous stumps, stones, and branches.  

There is no quick fix to the problem of zombie trees; rather, it’s all about surviving over the long haul. With that in mind, tires like the Primex LogStomper Extreme are excellent for use on harvesters and skidders that see action in all types of terrain, the LogStomper Extreme features a variable lug design for hill stability and superior traction. Built to stand up to long, hard days, the LogStomper Extreme is constructed with heavy sidewalls, a thick under-tread gauge, and a special rubber compound to ensure that it won’t let you down if you’re ever surrounded by zombie trees.

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Zombie trees might not be horror movie level scary to some people, but know that it’s a nightmare for the people who worry about safe, healthy, productive forests. As weather patterns change—drought has recently been prevalent in the West—the problem of zombie trees is only amplified. Thankfully, Alliance and Primex tires will be there in support of the foresters and loggers tirelessly working on minimizing the impact of the zombie tree problem.