Tree cutters clear the way for Camp Fire recovery

Published:

BUTTE COUNTY – Survivors of the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history moved a step closer to recovery this week as state-managed crews began clearing dead and dying trees from the burn scar of the 2018 Camp Fire. As part of California’s comprehensive Camp Fire recovery efforts, crews have begun removing some of the 49,397 trees that pose a danger to the public.

“For the people of Butte County and Paradise to rebuild, their communities must be safe,” Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) Acting Director Ken DaRosa said. “While crews have already removed the remnants of destroyed homes, clearing the dead and dying trees will make it safer to rebuild.”

Teams of foresters and arborists have been in the field since August identifying which of hundreds of thousands of fire-damaged trees pose a danger of falling into the public right of way. To date:

  • 25,145 trees have been marked for removal in the Town of Paradise.
  • 24,252 trees have been marked for removal in the surrounding communities.
  • CalRecycle estimates that up to 70,000 trees ultimately will be eligible for removal in the state-managed program.

“The start of hazardous tree removal is an important milestone in this recovery operation, and it’s a critical step in the resilient rebuilding of these communities,” California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) Deputy Director Ryan Buras said. “Even as our state continues to face unprecedented challenges from COVID-19 and extreme weather events, Cal OES and our partner agencies remain steadfast in our commitment to assist the survivors of the Camp Fire by removing these serious threats to public safety.”

Leaving a wake of death and devastation unrivaled by any wildfire in California history, the Camp Fire claimed the lives of 85 people and destroyed 13,000 homes as it tore through the Town of Paradise and portions of unincorporated Butte County. Following a successful collaboration completing the area’s structural debris removal, Cal OES tasked CalRecycle with managing the safe removal of dead or dying trees that pose a threat to the public as a result of this deadly fire.

Property Owners Still Have Time to Sign Up

Camp Fire survivors can sign up for the government-managed tree removal program by submitting a Right-of-Entry (ROE) Permit form to Butte County.

To date:

  • 7,271 property owners have opted into the state-managed program at no out-of-pocket cost.  The deadline to enroll in this program is December 31, 2020. Information is available at ButteCountyRecovers.org.
  • 5,541 property owners opted to fund tree removal themselves and have the removal inspected and certified by a forester or arborist. The local deadline to enroll in this option has passed.

Property owners can email Right-of-Entry forms to TreeROE@ButteCounty.net or mail the form to:

Butte County Tree Removal ROE Processing Cent

PO Box 3390

Chico, CA  95927-3390

Order of Operations

The state-managed tree removal program consists of two stages:

Stage 1 – Identification of trees posing a hazard to the public by certified foresters and arborists

  • Hazard tree assessment: This stage is conducted by certified arborists under the direction of registered professional foresters. State-managed assessment staff started this step on August 24 and will continue as ROEs are received. Property owners can recognize state-contracted assessment teams by their safety vests with Arcadis, MGE, or Davey logos.

Stage 2 – Safe removal of hazard trees, sending them to their best end use

  • Hazard tree removal: CalRecycle has issued two contracts to remove trees identified by the foresters and arborists. A joint venture of contractors Sukut, Odin, P31, and J.W. Bamford are removing hazard trees within the Town of Paradise. Ceres Forestry is removing trees from areas of unincorporated Butte County affected by the Camp Fire.
  • Delivery to end use facility: The tree-removal firms will deliver the trees to appropriate end-use and disposal facilities. CalRecycle encourages contractors to deliver these wood materials to facilities that can utilize them as a natural resource.

Every property, whether part of the government program or privately cleared, will require certification that all hazard trees that endanger the public have been removed.

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