The Madera County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution last month that declared a state of emergency due to the massive amount of dead and dying trees in the county’s Mountain Area.
Both Tuolumne and Mariposa counties have passed similar resolutions and it is anticipated other Sierra counties will do the same.
Madera County District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler and the board are hopeful to bring some attention to the issue at the state and federal level.
“The goal is to try and find resources that could assist private land owners and increase public safety,” Wheeler said.
In the resolution, the supervisors declare that due to rising temperatures associated with climate change, as well as four years of drought and increased bark beetle infestations, tree mortality rates are as high as 20% to 85% in several areas of the state.
It further states that the “unprecedented tree mortality disaster” affects watersheds that supply a majority of California’s water use, increases wildfire risks, and diminishes air quality, among other issues.
The best route to protect the forests is to remove dead and dying trees, the resolution states, as agreed on by scientists and experts. In order to do so, local agencies and public property owners need assistance as they cannot fully afford the tree removal efforts.
The resolution requests that Gov. Jerry Brown make available any and all state assistance programs to facilitate the safe and timely removal of dead and dying trees from public lands in order to protect and maintain watersheds and wildlife habitat. It also asks for assistance to protect and restore forest resiliency in national parks and managed forests, and seek additional federal assistance programs to provide relief to the public agencies and private individuals that have been harmed by the tree mortality disaster.