Written by Sarah Bolton –
OAKHURST – Blue Ridge Services, Inc., a waste and vegetation management company hired by Madera County to oversee the county’s tree mortality mitigation project, has been making consistent progress to remove dead and dying trees near county infrastructure.
Blue Ridge Services (BRS) has sent Right of Entry forms to every private residence with dead trees on their property impacting county infrastructure. Several local tree cutting crews are in the field while several areas have already been completed.
In addition to tree removal, BRS has focused on providing county residents with information regarding tree safety.
“At this point, those who live in Madera County are very used to tree mortality,” says Samuel Bolton, Assistant Project Director. “In the past, when you spotted a dead tree, your instinct was to stay away, to keep your eyes open, and avoid the potential danger. But now – a few years and a few million trees later – a dead tree is just another part of the landscape.”
Residents are urged to be vigilant when walking, standing, driving or working around dead trees. Many of the trees that have been dead for several years are more dangerous than ever.
After a Ponderosa Pine has been dead for 3-4 years, the internal structure begins to fail. This is because wood rot usually occurs at the lower trunk and root system, which can cause a seemingly stable tree to fall without warning. Residents should look for signs like bark falling off, dark stained wood at the trunk, and visible cracks – all signs of a very dangerous tree.
“Our top priority is public safety,” says Tom Wheeler, Madera County District 5 Supervisor. “Now that we have secured the funding for this project, we want to use local contractors to quickly and safely remove hazard trees. This process will still take time. In the meantime, people need to be extra careful and look up and around when they are walking and driving near dead trees.”
Drought and insect infestations have killed millions of trees in Madera County. As many as 11,000 of those are in high-hazard zones that may present a risk to County infrastructure. The County has responded with a strategic, multi-layered approach focused on reducing risks to public safety and protecting affected infrastructure.
Blue Ridge Services is focusing on first clearing dead trees from county property and along county-maintained roads where fire or falling trees could damage critical infrastructure (roads, parks, facilities, etc.).
Blue Ridge Services, Inc. continues to provide the public with project updates and tree mortality information via their website (https://blueridgeservices.com/maderatreemortality) and a project Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/maderatreemortality).