AUBURN, CA (MPG) - Work to remove dead and dying trees threatening county roadways began this week as Placer County continues to manage the tree death crisis in its forestlands.
The pilot project will remove 262 trees in Placer’s unincorporated community of Foresthill.
"The number of dying trees in our local communities is unprecedented,” said Office of Emergency Services Director Holly Powers. “A fallen tree could cause serious harm to people, or significant damage to county infrastructure like roads and buildings, so we have an important incentive to remove them.”
Arborists with the county’s consultant for the project, Mountain G. Enterprises Inc., have identified approximately 10,500 dead or dying trees countywide that could fall onto county roads or other county-owned infrastructure like trails and parking lots. About half of these are on federal land and most of the rest are on private property or in the county right-of-way.
Placer awarded contracts totaling $162,380 for the Foresthill work to A&E Arborists Tree Care of Yuba City in July.
Larger tree removal projects elsewhere in the county are still being planned, with more work expected to start later this summer.
Many other agencies are also removing dead trees in Placer County, including Pacific Gas and Electric, Liberty Utilities, Caltrans and CAL FIRE. Hazardous trees on private property are the responsibility of the property owner to remove, and some assistance is available to them through the county’s Firewise Communities Program and the Placer County Resource Conservation District.
Only trees that threaten county roads are eligible for removal by the county on private property, and only property owners who have granted the county right-of-entry approval will have trees removed. Affected residents have been notified of the removal schedule and can expect intermittent lane closures in area neighborhoods as work crews remove the trees. The project is expected to last up to 60 days.
Disposal of the trees is the contractor’s responsibility and at their discretion. Possible uses for the timber include lumber, wood chips and renewable energy produced at local biomass facilities.
Nearly all felled trees will be removed, but a limited number determined to be in ecologically-sensitive areas will be left in place. Trees deemed to have died before Placer County declared a local emergency in December 2015 due to the tree death crisis have been marked with white paint and won’t be felled by the county.
An estimated 129 million trees in California were killed by drought and bark beetles between 2010 and 2017, according to the state’s Tree Mortality Task Force. Placer County remains under a declared emergency due to the tree death crisis and is counted among the 10 hardest-hit California counties. That makes Placer eligible for reimbursement of 75 percent of the project costs through the California Disaster Assistance Act. The county’s 25 percent cost share is 100 percent reimbursable up to $364,000 through a CAL FIRE grant program.
More information about the tree death crisis in Placer County is available at www.placer.ca.gov/trees.