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Tree Mortality Work In Madera County, Column #1

Written by Sarah Bolton –

MADERA COUNTY – Hello Madera Residents! Welcome to the first edition of the Tree Mortality Community Column.

Our company, Blue Ridge Services, is partnering with Madera County to oversee and implement their tree mortality mitigation project.

Several members of our team live in Madera County, and like you, we are well aware of the severity of the tree mortality issue in our community. Four years of drought and a devastating bark beetle infestation killed off more than 129 million trees in California since 2010, according to estimates by the U.S. Forest Service.

Dead trees pose a risk to county infrastructure, including roads, buildings, and bridges, and can also be a huge risk to humans who walk, park, and work near dead or dying trees. There are also many trees that have been cut down or fallen, littering the landscape and blocking trails and roads. We are actively addressing these issues and have teams working in the field throughout the county.

We are sending out Right of Entry (ROE) forms to county residents. Many of the dead or dying trees that could impact county infrastructure are located on or near private property. We must have a signed ROE form in order to enter private property and cut down trees. If you have received a ROE form from us, please sign and return it as soon as possible so we can continue our work without delays.

This week, we have teams cutting trees on Roads 223 and 620. Tree cutting will begin within the next two weeks on Roads 600, 426, 420, 225, 432 and 800.

If you live in any of these areas and have questions about our crews, the overall project, or tree mortality in general, please reach out to us by phone 209-966-7777 or by emailing

We look forward to partnering with the community of Madera County to tackle this very important project.

-The BRS Team

Editor’s note: The BRS Team will keep you updated throughout this process with a weekly submission.

One comment

  1. The primary cause of the massive tree die-off in the Sierra Nevada is the clear cutting that went on here a hundred years ago. The Madera Sugar Pine Lumber Company (based in Fish Camp from 1899-1931) arrived to find an old growth sugar pine forest. Sugar pines were described by John Muir, the great naturalist, as “the noblest of the pine trees.” They grew 220 feet high, they had a 70 foot crown, they lived 600 to 800 years, at which point they had a diameter of 10-12 feet. While we still have groves of old growth redwoods and giant sequoia, we have no groves of old growth sugar pines. Straight, slow-growing pine was the best lumber in the world, and they took it all, from one end of the Sierra Nevada to the other. After this clear cutting, trees sprouted up thousands to the acre instead of hundreds. Thus, when the drought came, followed by the bark beetle, the individual trees did not have the resources to fight them off, which they usually do by drowning them in sap. So tens of millions of trees have died. But this is the result of the clear cutting done early in the last century. It is not a natural occurrence. In 400 years, the National Forest will be an old growth sugar pine forest again, as the sugar pines will outgrow the other trees.

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