CSAC Bulletin Article

Tree Mortality Task Force-Still Fighting the Good Fight

May 11, 2017

Though the drought emergency is over, tree mortality remains a steadfast problem. The good news? A dedicated interdisciplinary team representing all levels of government is working tirelessly to fight it.

Counties make up an important component of the Governor’s Tree Mortality Task Force, which continues to meet regularly. At the most recent meeting on Monday, the U.S. Forest Service, utility companies, Cal Trans, and Cal Fire provided updates. The recent heavy storms have made some tree work more difficult, as road issues cropped up. However, this may also present opportunities – like working on road damage and tree removal in the same area.

Working groups also provided updates, including a host of new resources on the website (here and here), and new talking points to be distributed soon. The Regulations Working Group is looking for a co-lead, and the Resources Working Group will distribute a comprehensive list of additional funding resources at the next meeting. The Forest Health Working Group is working with University of California extension to research long-term changes in forest composition, which includes a lot of unknowns that need to be researched. The Reforestation Working Group is continuing to offer workshops and promoting reforestation on different types of land with different tools.

Counties continue to demonstrate commitment, leadership, and innovation on this important issue. For example, Tuolumne County was recently awarded a NACo Achievement Award for its innovative Emergency Hazard Tree Mortality Program. Supervisors Forester, Cann, Worthley, and Hanvelt recently contributed to a blog post to highlight lessons learned and outstanding challenges in their counties. Coordinating local resources and community information sharing are common theme across many counties, along with the issue of how best to assist private landowners who struggle to cover the expense of tree removal on private property.

As the drought comes to an end and the funding associated with it also dries up, CSAC will continue to prioritize tree mortality.

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