Focus on Tree Mortality Continues
March 16,, 2017
The Governor’s Tree Mortality Task Force met this week to discuss the ongoing tree mortality crisis. Updates were generally positive with lots of meaningful work underway. Since the Task Force last met in February, the Little Hoover Commission held a hearing about tree mortality, which helped raise interest from areas of the state not immediately impacted by the crisis. The U.S. Forest Service reported that it may get a little additional funding, and if it is in fact received the dollars will be directed to high priority areas.
Utility company stakeholders indicated little change in their status – work is ongoing, and concern about the upcoming fire season remains. Some utilities are exploring different strategies to remove trees more quickly. CalTrans reported out on several ongoing projects and indicated some uncertainty around the federal billing rates.
The Tree Mortality Working Groups had lots of news to share:
· The Public Outreach Working group reported that a new website is close to going live with information on landowner assistance, and they are planning a coordinated summer campaign for public outreach.
· The Regulations Working Group reported ongoing discussions on insurance, including a survey by United Policyholders (available here: www.uphelp.org/survey ).
- The Bioenergy Working Group mentioned ongoing work with facilities, developers, utilities, the CPUC. They also referenced Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) grants through the Energy Commission.
- The Resource Allocation Working Group reported that a couple counties are getting new equipment.
- The Forest Health Working Group reported that they’re in a phase of looking back at objectives to see what has been achieved and what is still needed. The group is also moving forward with reforestation strategies and research.
- The Market Development Working Group reported work with Go-BIZ on some new developments and companies in impacted areas.