Mother Lode Views focused on Tuolumne County’s actions to remove dead and dying trees that are impacted vital local infrastructure. The Governor has declared a State of Emergency declaration due to the growing problem. Guests included Tuolumne County Office of Emergency Services Coordinator Tracie Riggs and Mike Albrecht of Sierra Resource Management.
First foresters and arborist will mark trees that threaten infrastructure (mainly roads)
How bad? It is bad throughout the whole North American continent. “The western pine beetle has been the biggest problem from 1921 to 1945” so this is a decades old issue made worse by over stock (too many trees per acre) and the worst drought some say in 1,200 years. Currently this is the largest known infestation in history, and it is beyond human control. It frustrates foresters, can only clean it up. It moves from south to north, Calaveras is next to be hit. There is no silver bullet, multiple agencies are giving it the best effort we can. Groveland, Yoesmite, MiWuk and 108 corridor… It is a Sierra Nevada problem. Calfire does a good job mapping high hazard zones.
Governor’s State of Emergency Declaration offered Disaster assistance act funding (TC has been in ER funding for 3 years now) reimburse 75% of money for removing trees that threaten county infrastructure. Exemption to bypass the CEQUA process, means can act faster.
Tuolumne County is lucky because they have markets and places to take the wood product- 2 lumber mills and PG&E bark burning (bio mass) power plant in Chinese Camp, but it is slated to close. Hoping to keep it open to help get rid of the dead tree material.
To get funding there are many steps to apply to meet requirements to get reimbursed. During Rim Fire all of hazard tree removal was not done correctly to get FEMA funding. Worked with ER services to get some help but now we know how to do it correctly and dispose of it. The funding requires certain certified licensed people, local tree removal companies don’t meet specific credentials to help.
What slows or stops this problem. Not that much extra precipitation this year, if there is 20 below 0 for a week or a lot of rain. Probably go on for a couple years, this is not going to go away. May need interim places to put wood before it goes to market, China, Lumber mills, bio power plants.
Once they are on the ground- it is going to take some cranes to pluck trees out of people’s yards. Then getting the trees off the ground is next, because they become fire hazard.
Supervisors are advocating at the State and Federal level about the problem. Other counties look to Tracie Riggs when there are questions because she has been through the tree removal process with the Rim fire.
My tree is starting to turn brown what is the process. A beetle is size of a grain of rice bores into the tree lays eggs and the eggs hatch and eat around the inner cambium the roots die because they can not get the photosynthesis from the tree’s leaves. With rain the tree has enough moisture to push the beetles out with pitch. When the trees turn brown the tree is on its way out. Trees under attack have pitch tubes around the bark and are going to die, the idea that you can water them and save them is unrealistic.
Tree mortality forum event listing. By April foresters will have maps from foresters of the trees that need harvesting.
How long? The county will need to have someone to manage this into 2017.
Tracie Riggs: this is a huge, huge, slow moving danger. Unlike other disasters this will go on for a period of time. We will continue to work with state and national to advocate for residents.
Be patient, we want to be diligent and be careful and to get this going.