California fire santa cruz
A burned out truck is seen at a property in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Loma Prieta Josh Edelson/AFP

More than 102 million trees have been killed as a result of the ongoing drought in California, with 62 million dying in 2016 alone.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said the most recent figures represent a 100% increase in dead trees in California over the last year, prompting public safety concerns related to wildfires.

Additional trees on California's 7.7 million acres of drought-stricken forest have also been recorded as dying or weakened, with authorities reporting Congressional funding had been diverted to fire fighting rather than spent on forest health, which would lower the fire risk.

"These dead and dying trees continue to elevate the risk of wildfire, complicate our efforts to respond safely and effectively to fires when they do occur, and pose a host of threats to life and property across California," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

"USDA has made restoration work and the removal of excess fuels a top priority, but until Congress passes a permanent fix to the fire budget, we can't break this cycle of diverting funds away from restoration work to fight the immediate threat of the large unpredictable fires caused by the fuel buildups themselves."

Wildfires have caused serious problems in the state, with the Blue Cut fire alone this year burning 30,000 acres of land and leading to the evacuation of 80,000 people.

And120,000 acres of land have been scorched by fire in the southeastern US this autumn, with the cost of fighting fires higher than ever, and budgets to do so squeezed.

"We must fund wildfire suppression like other natural disasters in the country," Vilsack added.