California Grant Speeds Up Tree Removal

"Not only will the counties be able to decrease the risk of trees falling on critical infrastructure, homes, and possibly people, but it also creates a safer area for firefighters when responding to a wildfire," said Rick Carr, Southern Region staff chief of Resource Management.

CAL FIRE recently announced that $6 million has been awarded in a one-time grant to help high-priority counties with the evaluation, identification, removal, and disposal of dead trees that threaten public rights-of-ways and infrastructure. The state is trying to find ways to clear millions of dead trees -- between 2010 and 2018, 129 million trees statewide have died through a combination of drought stress and bark beetle infestation, according to CAL FIRE.

The agency's Local Assistance for Tree Mortality (LATM) Grant Program will provide the matching funds for counties to be able to tap into the California Disaster Assistance Act, which is administered by the California Office of Emergency Services. The LATM Grant Program will work cooperatively with the CDAA program to increase reimbursement to high-priority counties to remove or fell dead and dying trees threatening public infrastructure such as roads and buildings.

Since 2015, more than 1 million of the dead trees have been removed or felled in high-priority counties through the efforts of the Tree Mortality Task Force, according to the agency, which said the goal of the LATM Grant Program is to increase the number of trees removed or felled by increasing the pace and scale of tree mortality projects in these key counties.

CAL FIRE will allocate $300,000 to each of the 10 high-priority counties (Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Kern, Madera, Mariposa, Placer, Tulare, and Tuolumne). The remaining $3 million dollars will be distributed proportionately to the estimated number of dead trees in each county based on April 2017 data. Each county will report on their progress monthly and work through Cal OES and CAL FIRE for reimbursement.

"CAL FIRE's Local Assistance for Tree Mortality program opens up a number of opportunities for not only Madera County, but the other nine high-priority counties," said Supervisor Tom Wheeler of Madera County. "We have been trying to find creative ways to deal with tree mortality issues on a local level, but funding has truly been a restraint. By contributing the match for CDAA funds, each of the counites is able to move forward with a number of priority projects that help to keep the public safe."

"Response to tree mortality has been a high-priority for CAL FIRE, our partner agencies, and for each of the counties," explained Rick Carr, Southern Region staff chief of Resource Management. "This grant opportunity will help intensify tree removal projects having a substantial impact in removing hazardous trees. Not only will the counties be able to decrease the risk of trees falling on critical infrastructure, homes, and possibly people, but it also creates a safer area for firefighters when responding to a wildfire."

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