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Tree Removal, Debris Chipping Help For Calaveras Residents

San Andreas, CA – Through grant monies a local fire safe council can help Calaveras residents dealing with drought or beetle-killed trees — or doing due diligence clearing ahead of fire season.

Property owners or renters with dead or dying trees within 200 feet of any habitable structures may be interested that the Calaveras Foothills Fire Safe Council is now broadcasting the word about $175,000 in recent funding it has secured through CAL Fire State Responsibility Area (SRA) Tree Mortality Fund Grant Program grants.

According to council spokesperson Bill Fullerton, “To get the most bang for the buck, we are trying offer a cost-share to the homeowner.” Available on the group’s website, application forms must be filled out, mailed and received in-house at the council office by May 22.

Rebates Available Of Up To $2,100

Due to the limited funds — and expectations that the program will be popular — Fullerton says that the postmarks will be used to number the applications as they come in. Those that meet the criteria will be assigned lottery numbers and a drawing will select the final participants.

Fullerton expects this process to be complete by early June. Those who receive approval letters will get directions to hire a licensed tree professional and follow certain rules in order to receive reimbursements of up to $350 per cut tree for up to six trees.

Not only must the trees be within 200 feet of a habitable structure to be covered by the grant rebate, they must also be larger than 18 inches in diameter and 54 inches from ground. Besides dropping and limbing the tree(s), the tree pro must also chip or remove all the slash and materials six inches or less in diameter. The process also requires the approved applicants to shoot before and after photos and allow a ranger to make a site visit.

Free Chipping Anyone?

The council still technically has a year left on its two-year $150,000 SRA grant that provides free “door-to-door” chipping services to Calaveras residents on a first-come, first-served basis.

Fullerton however expects that the remaining funds may be spent by the end of summer, especially as the fire season approaches and folks address in earnest the clearing of defensible space of up to 100 feet from structures and 30 feet from access roads. “In a nutshell, for those homeowners or property owners that have done or are doing their due diligence to make their property fire safe, the program gives them an alternative to burning,” he shares.

Currently, Fullerton estimates the wait time from application approval to seeing a chipping contractor show up onsite as about two weeks on average. Owners of any size property are eligible for up to a half-day of chipping. “A typical residential lot will take us maybe an hour to chip three or four piles, so a half a day of chipping is a considerable amount,” he states. Depending on the applicant’s preference the contractor will then either broadcast the materials across the property or pile it back up.

When preparing and stacking chipping piles, the cut wood ends must face the same direction, and point out towards the road or driveway — not downhill or in a ditch. The piles must be within five feet of a road with an overall height of four feet or less. Wood pieces must be less than eight inches in diameter and no shorter than three feet. Additionally, the piles must not contain any of the following: roots, stumps or dirt; scotch broom, poison oak blackberries and vines; all non-vegetative materials. Fullerton sends a gentle reminder that leaves, pine needles and yard clippings are not eligible for chipping.

For more details on both programs call 209 728-8785, or click here, where you may also download applications. Although chipping assistance program applications may be emailed, those for the tree removal cost-share must be sent via the US mail to Calaveras Foothills Fire Safe Council, P.O. Box 891, Murphys, CA 95247.