Placer County reaffirms tree mortality a local emergency | SierraSun.com

Placer County reaffirms tree mortality a local emergency

Hannah Jones
hjones@sierrasun.com

Placer County has reaffirmed a local emergency across the county as trees continue to perish as a result of consistent drought making them vulnerable to bark beetles.

The county is among the 10 hardest hit in the state who have declared local emergencies.

In 2017, Placer County lost 709,000 trees, bringing the cumulative total number of trees lost to 1.5 million. Since 2010 an estimated 129 million trees have died in California's national forests "due to conditions caused by climate change, unprecedented drought, bark beetle infestation and high tree densities," according to the U.S. Forest Service.

According to a staff report, approximately 10,500 dead or dying trees have been identified as a possible threat if they were to remain standing, fueling wildfires or collapsing during winter months. This number was six times the original estimate of 1,834 when the work began.

Last week the county approved a $1,761,889 contract with Mountain G. Enterprises to evaluate trees that pose a risk, which may include those on private property at no cost to the property owner.

According to the county, thousands of right of entry forms have been mailed to property owners, which must be filled out before contractors can enter a property.

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A U.S. Forest Service study shows drought has intensified in the last 30 years, with most of the state experiencing severe or worse drought levels since 2014.

"Higher winter and summer temperatures will further exacerbate the situation by reducing California's snowpack," the report reads.

Though record high precipitation from the 2016 to 2017 winter season has helped restore some of the trees suffering, many are past the point of recovery. The county is already in the process of marking trees deemed unhealthy or dying throughout the Tahoe Basin.

The county has also established a Tree Mortality Task Force as well as participating in the state level task force to assist in coordinating funding for tree removal from state or federal funds.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or hjones@sierrasun.com.

BY THE NUMBERS

709,000 — trees lost in Placer County in 2017

1.5 million — total number of Placer County dead trees

129 million — total dead trees in California’s national forests

Source: United States Forest Service