Caltrans is identifying and marking dead and dying trees that could impact the safety of the traveling public along state highways. The effort is part of an ongoing need to address over 102 million dead trees that have died due to drought and bark beetle infestation since 2010.
Caltrans is marking potentially hazardous trees along the roadway with orange paint and is seeking permission from private property owners to remove marked trees from their property. “Permission to Enter” forms will be mailed to affected property owners one to six months after trees are marked. Property owners can also fill out the form online, and get more information, by visiting www.dot.ca.gov/TreeMortality/.
Caltrans has already removed about 2,400 total dead and dying trees along 16 miles of Highway 41, and nine miles along Highway 49 in Madera County, and will begin removing more after the Labor Day weekend, spokespeople said.
This fall, Caltrans is planning to remove approximately 20,000 dead and dying trees along state routes 41, 49, 168, 180, and 190 in Madera, Fresno, and Tulare Counties.
Tree removal is provided at no cost because dead and dying trees near highways are potentially hazardous to the public.
“Safety is our number one priority, and we are working hard to remove any potential threats along our highways,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “We’ve made significant progress already and will continue our efforts to ensure the roads stay safe and open for travel.”
In October 2015, Governor Brown recognized the magnitude of tree mortality and declared a State of Emergency. In the Governor’s Executive Order, he established the Tree Mortality Task Force where Caltrans has been working with partners like Pacific Gas and Electric Company, county public works, Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service to coordinate tree removal.
Collectively, Tree Mortality Task Force members have removed or felled over 640,000 dead trees in high hazard areas. Caltrans has removed 107,000 hazardous trees near California highways and is expecting to remove 54,000 more by summer of 2018.
The most affected counties are: Madera, Mariposa, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Mariposa, Placer, Tulare, and Tuolumne. Trees in the Tahoe Basin have already been marked at locations along State Routes 28, 50, 89, and 267.
More information on the Tree Mortality Task Force is available at: fire.ca.gov/TreeTaskForce/.
Caltrans District 6, which includes Fresno and Madera counties, can be reached at (559) 444-2409.