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Supes To Address Drought-Dead And Dying Trees

Sonora, CA – As the supervisors plan to continue the local drought state of emergency they may well adopt a separate emergency resolution to tackle dead and dying tree issues.

As previously reported, the last Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 1, the board requested that county staff assemble a Tree Mortality Task Force after hearing from regional stakeholders and local residents. “Big picture” impacts from US Forest Service and Cal Fire officials indicate that drought impacts are resulting in widespread tree losses that not only exceed 13.4 million statewide but are significantly increasing in areas within the Mother Lode. Related issues now involve public safety as falling trees are damaging homes, businesses and have the potential to interrupt essential services, such as in the Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD), which recently experienced damage to a main water flume (see photo in left image box). Furthermore, related costs and scope for many affected private landowners present enormous challenges, as does the lack of sufficient locally available removal resources. An emergency declaration would not only enable the county to marshal a coordinated response, it would also enable applications for state and federal funding as well as other resource assistance.

Among other agenda items, the supervisors will consider making contract awards for two roadway improvement projects for which bidding closed last Thursday. They comprise two of three major reconstruction projects identified in the county’s latest road fund capital projects budget line, which represents about $849,000 in improvements. The first, involving Dodge Ridge Road, has been tagged with a cost estimate of $191,300; the second, on Yankee Hill Road, is currently at $232,200.

County Airports Manager Benedict Stuth reports that while the Tuolumne County Airport continues to receive $544,000 in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) grant funds in the program’s most recent grant cycle, due to staffing changes over the past two years, the county no longer had a current FAA-approved plan on file, nor a designated liaison officer. In order to continue receiving funding through December, Stuth submitted an updated plan for approval that includes designating County Engineering Technician Sharon Mikesell as the point person. Once the plan is approved, Stuth will additionally be required to schedule a public hearing and notify DBE and non-DBE businesses that work with the airports on DOT-related contracts. Stuth indicates that Taxiway B and C Design and Columbia Airport Master Program are among the projects supported through the grant monies.

Debbie Bautista, county clerk and auditor-controller is slated to receive a county service award from the board, which will also officially recognize her office’s recent Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association.

Tomorrow’s meeting will begin at 9 a.m. in the Board of Supervisors Chambers in the County Administration Center (4th Floor, 2 S. Green St., Sonora).