Be proactive. Create 100 feet of “defensible space,” the natural and landscaped area around a structure that has been maintained and designed to reduce fire danger. Remove dead trees, especially around your home. Maintain trees by thinning overgrown trees and watering as necessary. Plant a diversity of tree species, including drought tolerant species of trees native to the area.
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Know who is responsible for dead or dying trees. Dead or dying trees on private property are typically the responsibility of the property owner.
If property owners are unfamiliar with tree harvesting practices, they should consult with a licensed professional forester or arborist. The Placer County Resource Conservation District has tree professionals available for consultation and inspections.
Dead trees need to be removed as soon as possible. They create a fire hazard and standing dead trees will rot, becoming unstable, and will eventually fall, especially during winter storms. The longer a tree is dead, the more difficult and expensive it can be to remove.
Felled trees can be left or removed. If left, they need to be properly handled. Felled wood can be used for firewood, but needs to be stored correctly. Wood from bark beetle-infested trees should be covered with plastic, following a specific technique to kill the beetles, and left covered for several months. If wood is not going to be used for firewood, then it should be chipped and used as mulch.
View additional information on how to correctly store bark beetle-infested firewood (PDF).
While anyone with downed wood is free to contact lumber mills, at this point there is a glut in the wood market, reducing the amount of wood that mills can take. Downed wood can also be sold as fuel for biomass power generation.
Placer County has formed a Tree Mortality Task Force, which is an inter-agency effort to coordinate all aspects of the tree mortality issue, such as public outreach, resource and funding identification and procurement, and landowner assistance. In September, the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved the county’s hazardous tree removal plan, and funding for tree removal using state funds for a portion of the work. This will allow the county to remove trees that threaten county infrastructure.
Dead trees on private land that could directly affect county infrastructure if they fell may qualify for some funding under the county plan.
Local, state and federal government and utilities may remove trees from both public and private land if those trees pose a hazard to infrastructure (roads, buildings, power and water conveyance systems, etc,). CAL FIRE is removing dead and dying trees adjacent to Interstate 80 from the West Paoli exit to Donner Summit.
The Placer Resource Conservation District is available to answer questions and/or conduct property assessments to provide site-specific advice. You can reach them at (530) 390-6680.
. The district can help determine eligibility for various funding assistance programs.