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Tree Mortality
Tuolumne County Tree Mortality

Tuolumne County has thousands of dead and dying trees that are threatening public safety and infrastructure. The County is taking action to work towards mitigating hazardous dead trees in the following ways:

•On September 18, 2015 the Board of Supervisors proclaimed a Local State of Emergency due to pervasive tree mortality. The most current declaration can be viewed here.
  
•On October 30, 2015 Governor Brown issued a State of Emergency proclamation, which can be read here. This proclamation recognizes and addresses the need for the removal of dead and dying trees throughout the State and authorized California Disaster Assistant Act (CDAA) funding which provides 75% reimbursement for all eligible costs related to removal of hazard trees that threaten public infrastructure.

•County, City and Special Districts are eligible for reimbursement through CDAA.

•The Governor's Executive Orders allow County, City and Special Districts the flexibility to remove dead and dying trees that threaten public infrastructure.  Some of these trees may be on private property.  The County will send out Right of Entry permits to homeowners who may have dead trees on their property that could potentially impact County maintained roads or County maintained structures. Once the homeowner signs and returns the right of entry permit, they will be entered into a secure database which notifies the contractor which properties they can access.

•Tuolumne County received preliminary approval for CDAA on November 18, 2015.

•CDAA does not provide assistance to private property owners or businesses.
   
Tree Mortality Task Force

A Tree Mortality Task Force was assembled to develop a response plan for removing hazard trees. The goal of the Tuolumne County Tree Mortality Task Force is to collaborate with local, as well as private, and public partners to identify and remove dead and dying trees which threaten public safety and infrastructure (power lines, water systems, roads/highways, communication lines, etc.). County staff continue to working towards mitigating the threat of dead and dying trees with our partners. The first step is to identify and prioritize areas where dead trees need to be removed to protect public infrastructure.

Supervisor Brennan, Supervisor Hanvelt, County OES Coordinator Tracie Riggs and the County of Tuolumne Tree Mortality Project Manager, Mike Albrecht, are all members of the Governor's Tree Mortality Task Force. This task force meets on a monthly basis and provides a forum for coordination and information sharing among local, state, federal, private and non-profit agencies in an effort to ensure public safety and continuity of essential services from the threat of tree mortality across the State of California.

This page will be updated as new information becomes available.

Quick Links and FAQ's (on the right hand side of this page) are resources made available to you from the County and its partner agencies. If you would like more information, please contact us and we will be glad to assist.
CAL FIRE has created a 4 minute long video on the bark beetle/tree mortality epidemic in California.

California State Association of Counties (CSAC) has created a video that details how devastating the tree mortality issue is becoming. Additionally, CSAC President Richard Forster has written a blog that accompanies the video and can be read here.

Tree Mortality Coordination Efforts

There are a number of tree removal efforts taking place in Tuolumne County and will continue as new dead trees are identified. Below is an outline of the various agencies and companies removing trees around Tuolumne County.

1. PG&E: PG&E contracts with ACRT to mark trees that threaten PG&E power lines. PG&E also contracts with various tree removal companies such as, Mountain Enterprises, Utility Tree Service, and Phillips and Jordan. Phillips and Jordan is running PG&E's debris removal program, which homeowners can participate in by calling 1-800-743-5000 .

2. County of Tuolumne: The County is marking and removing trees that can fall onto or over a County maintained road, or County maintained structure. The County contracts with Certified Arborists and Registered Professional Foresters to mark trees that meet CDAA qualifications. After the trees are marked, the County then contracts with Licensed Timber Operators or D-49 Tree Service Contractors to fell the tree. CAL FIRE is providing crews from Baseline Conservation Camp to chip the slash and debris.

3. Caltrans: Caltrans is removing trees that threaten state highways, such as Highway 108, Highway 120, Highway 49, etc. Currently, Caltrans is removing trees on Highway 108 from Soulsbyville to Strawberry. Caltrans has contracted with SMCI to remove and process the trees. Their wood sort yard is located on Highway 108 across from the Lyons Reservoir entrance.

4. Tuolumne Utilities District: TUD is removing trees that threaten their flume, ditch, and water treatment infrastructure. TUD has marked those hazard trees that qualify for their program and will begin the tree removal process soon.

5. Twain Harte Community Services District: THCSD has identified dead trees that have the potential to damage their infrastructure (water, sewer, structures, etc). They will soon begin the tree marking process once a certified arborist or forester has been selected.


Tuolumne County Wood Sort Yard

PURPOSE

In response to the large volume of wood requiring disposal, the County has opened a wood sort yard that will allow logs of all sizes to be dropped off, free of charge. The wood sort yard is in close proximity to Pacific Ultrapower, which gives them the ability to chip wood on-site to be used as fuel for power production. This is an environmentally conscious and cost effective solution for wood disposal. Additionally, some wood may be sent to American Wood Fibers and Sierra Pacific Industries, depending on condition and marketability. The county is not providing payment for wood dropped off at the sort yard.

LOCATION AND HOURS OF OPERATION

The wood sort yard is located off highway 120 and Enterprise Drive. Signage to the wood yard will be on Enterprise Drive. Hours of operation are: Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

•From Sonora: Take highway 108 to the highway 120 exit at Yosemite Junction. Continue on highway 120 for approximately 1.67 miles. Turn right on Enterprise Drive. The wood sort yard is on the right hand side, just before the gate to Ultrapower.

•From Groveland: Take highway 120 approximately 13 miles and turn left on Enterprise Drive. The wood sort yard is on the right hand side, just before the gate to Ultrapower.

Please note: NO dumping or wood cutting will be allowed. The wood yard will accept logs of any size and length, but will not take slash, pine needles, or debris.

At this time, slash may be disposed of for a fee at these commercial sites:

•Cal Sierra Earth Resource Facility
14909 Camage Road
Sonora
(209) 533-0445 or (209) 532-1413

•Plainview Slash Site
Highway 108 & Plainview Drive
Twain Harte
(209) 743-3317

•Green Works
18629 Eagle Ridge
Sonora
(209) 229-4562

Tree Removal Projects

The Leisure Pines Pilot Project is officially completed as of July 20, 2016. CAL FIRE crews will continue to chip any remaining brush and debris from properties with a signed right of entry permit. Any remaining trees that are marked have been done so by PG&E and will be removed by their contractors at a later date. If logs were not removed from your property, or your neighbors property it means we did not receive a right of entry permit. At this time, we do not have plans to return to the Leisure Pines area for additional clean-up; however, PG&E will be back to mark additional dead trees in fall of 2016.


NOTE: The contractor will only enter your property if a signed Right of Entry Permit was submitted to the Tuolumne County Office of Emergency Services.

All logs removed have been taken to the County Wood Sort Yard. From there, the wood will be chipped by Ultrapower, taken to California Wood Shavings, and/or to Sierra Pacific Industries.

FUTURE COUNTY PROJECT LOCATIONS:

The following is a tentative schedule of upcoming tree removal projects. This list is subject to change.

Mi-Wuk Village-Right of Entry Letters were sent out on June 24, 2016. County trees have been marked with pink paint.  Tree removal start date will be posted here soon.

Old Highway 120 - The County has selected Nate's Tree Service as the contractor for the tree removal on this project.  A project start date will be posted here soon.


Tuolumne Road North- Right of Entries mailed  8/1/2016

•Merrell Road- Right of Entries mailed  8/4/2016

Confidence Road- Right of Entries mailed out on 8/4/2016
 
•Ponderosa Hills – Right of Entry Letters mailed 8/30/16 

Ferretti Road North – Right of Entry mailed 9/1/16

Sierra Village – Right of Entry mailed 9/22/16


Smith Station Road – Right of Entry mailed 9/1/16

Phoenix Lake Road-Right of Entry mailed 9/14/16
  
Crystal Falls Drive-Right of Entry mailed 9/14/16

Sugar Pine-Right of Entry mailed 9/1/16

Middle Camp Road-Right of Entry mailed 9/1/16 

Twain Harte Drive-Right of Entry mailed 9/22/16 

•Cedar Ridge-Right of Entry mailed 9/1/16 

Sugar Pine-Right of Entry mailed 9/1/16

Cold Springs- Right of Entry mailed 9/22/16



PG&E Debris Removal Program

PG&E has hired Phillips and Jordan, a large scale disaster clean-up company, to manage their debris removal program. PG&E will be offering residents the option to have their trees and debris removed, if they were cut down by PG&E.

For more information, you can contact PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 or read this press release for program details.

Community Information Lines

The County of Tuolumne has opened Community Information lines to assist residents with their questions regarding hazard tree removal. The lines will be staffed by local volunteers who have received training to answer tree mortality questions. At this time, we do not have a set schedule but if you leave a message someone will get back to you as soon as possible. You can contact the Community Information Line at (209) 533-6394.

Information for Private Landowners

The US Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service has released federal funding to assist in the removal of trees on private forestlands. For more information please call 209-223-6535. The press release can be viewed here.

California Forest Stewardship Helpline- 1-800-738-8733

The California Forest Stewardship Helpline is staffed by Registered Professional Foresters (RPFs) who can answer your questions regarding tree mortality. You can also contact them by email, or visit the website.

Biomass Information

The County of Tuolumne is home to two biomass plants which burn wood to create energy. One is owned and operated by Sierra Pacific Industries off Camage Road, and the other is Pacific Ultrapower in Chinese Camp, which sells the energy created to PG&E via a contractual agreement. That agreement is due to expire in October of 2016, meaning Tuolumne County will lose an important resource for disposing of dead trees and wood. The following resources can be accessed to gain further information on biomass and its role in the tree mortality emergency.

If residents are interested in writing letters to California's elected officials in support of extending Pacific Ultrapower's contract with PG&E, please reference this link for contact information.