SACRAMENTO – Residents of the Central Sierra will soon see more crews on county roadways as new funding from Cal Fire helps with the removal of hazard trees.
Six million dollars have been awarded in a one-time grant to aid high-priority counties impacted by California’s historic tree mortality.
Cal Fire’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 (CDAA), administered by the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), .
Madera County District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler has been traveling to Sacramento at least once a month for over two years to work with the Tree Mortality Task Force, participating in various subcommittees, and working to get meaningful funding to address the county’s massive tree mortality crisis.
“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,” says Supervisor Wheeler. “We have been trying to find creative ways to deal with tree mortality issues on a local level but funding has truly been a constraint. By contributing the match for CDAA funds, each of the counties is able to move forward with a number of priority projects that help to keep the public safe.”
To help with the evaluation, identification, removal and disposal of dead trees threatening the public rights-of-way and infrastructure, Cal Fire — authorized under the Legislature (SB 108) — will allocate $300,000 to each of the ten high-priority counties, which include Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Kern, Madera, Mariposa, Placer, Tulare, and Tuolumne.
The remaining $3 million of the LATM grant will be proportioned and distributed, based on the estimated number of dead trees in each county as of April 2017. Each county will report on their progress monthly and work through Cal OES and Cal Fire for reimbursement.
These funds are being made available for hazard mitigation to public rights-of-way and infrastructure, not for private landowners.
Between 2010 and 2018, 129 million trees died in California due to a combination of drought-stress and bark beetle infestation. Since 2015, over 1 million of these trees have been removed or felled in high-priority counties through the coordinated efforts of the Tree Mortality
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 high-priority counties. Each tree removal project will need to meet the requirements of CDAA and be consistent with the
local Cal Fire Unit Fire Plan.
“Response to tree mortality has been a high-priority for Cal Fire, our partner agencies, and for each of the counties,” said Rick Carr, Southern Region Staff Chief of Resource Management. “This grant opportunity will help intensify tree removal projects. 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.”
To learn more about tree mortality visit the Tree Mortality Task Force website or visit ReadyForWildfire.org to get more information on how to prepare for your property against bark beetles and how to create healthier forests.
Tree Mortality Task Force
The Tree Mortality Task Force is comprised of state and federal agencies, local governments, utilities, and various stakeholders that will coordinate emergency protective actions, and monitor ongoing conditions to address the vast tree mortality resulting from four years of unprecedented drought and the resulting bark beetle infestations across large regions of the State.
- Provide for public health and safety of persons and property in identified high hazard zones.
- Ensure efforts associated with implementation of the directives contained in the Governor’s State of Emergency Proclamation remain coordinated.
- Ensure continuous communication among state, federal, and local governments, as well as with other non-governmental organizations assigned to the task force.
- Provide consistent and coordinated messaging between task force member agencies and the public.
- Manage projects and programs in a financially responsible and efficient manner.