Tree Mortality

In 2015, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. proclaimed a state of emergency due to the extreme hazard of the dead and dying trees throughout the State and specifically listed ten counties most effected, which included Placer County. Following the State’s Proclamation, Placer County proclaimed a Local Emergency due to tree mortality conditions on December 8, 2015. Statewide there are more than 147 million dead or dying trees as a result of the lethal combination of drought and bark beetles. That number is projected to keep growing.

Placer County created the Placer County Tree Mortality Task Force in March of 2016 as an inter-agency forum for information sharing/gathering and coordination of plans and resources that included representation from local, state and federal partners.

Dead and Dying Trees in Placer County

Placer County, along with much of California, is facing an unprecedented threat from the millions of dead and dying trees in our forests. Five years of successive drought has stressed the trees, which has enabled native bark beetles to proliferate and kill stands of once healthy trees. While the record precipitation from the winters of 2016 to 2017 has helped, many affected trees will not recover and remain vulnerable to bark beetles; most foresters say the massive die-off is likely to continue for several more years.


In 2016, the Board of Supervisors approved the Hazardous Tree Removal Plan (HTRP) which outlined the steps needed to address the identification and removal of hazardous trees that threaten County infrastructure as well as the coordination and management of this process. Since then, Placer County has contracted with Mountain G. Engineering to assist in the implementation of the Hazardous Tree Removal.

The county is responsible for over 1,000 miles of county roadway. An aerial survey documented approximately 1.5 million dead and dying trees within Placer County because of the drought and resulting bark beetle infestation. Of those 1.5 million trees, approximately 5,200 were eligible for the program.

The tree removal program of hazardous trees is a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional effort. Everyone from other state agencies, such as Caltrans, CAL FIRE, county roadway systems, and other infrastructure -- cities, local jurisdictions, private landowners, other public landowners – the entire State  is working together to try and identify hazardous trees and get them removed.

View the letter (PDF) from former District 5 Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery explaining the project and its importance.

How the program works

Tree surveys have identified trees being evaluated for the program, what right of entry forms have been completed and where contractors are removing trees as project packages are being delivered throughout Placer County.   

Each tree was marked with the letters "PC" and a number identifying that tree as a part of the Placer County Tree Mortality Removal Project. For those that signed a right of entry form and noticed the marking in red paint, those trees have been identified as ones which will be cut and removed by the contractor from their property. Trees marked using green paint will be cut and left on the property for disposal by the land owner If residents notice a tree with white paint on it, it means that the tree died prior to the emergency being declared and is not eligible through the emergency funding. However, CAL FIRE may be able to include these trees at a future time in their tree removal and forest management efforts.

 Property owners will be notified when by the contractor when work is about to begin.  

Trees which are stressed or diseased but have not reached a point where they cannot recover, are being recorded and monitored for the life of the project to determine if they require removal at a later date.

Lake Tahoe Basin Area

Marking in the Lake Tahoe Basin area was performed last summer.   Some trees have already been removed and more will be removed as weather and road access conditions allow.

Tree Mortality Map

View a map of tree mortality in California.