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Madera County will receive up to $6 million to combat tree mortality risks

Madera County will benefit from $6 million the state has granted to counties for their efforts to tackle high risk public areas affected by dying trees.
Madera County will benefit from $6 million the state has granted to counties for their efforts to tackle high risk public areas affected by dying trees. Brian Wilkinson

Last week the Madera County Board of Supervisors announced California has granted $6 million to counties for their efforts to tackle high-risk public areas affected by dying or dead trees.

Some of those areas include parks, facilities and roadways.

"Tree mortality started in the heart of Madera," said Tom Wheeler, District 5 supervisor. "The county was funding efforts to control the damage and ensure public safety with tax dollars allocated for our roadways and we couldn't keep up. We are tapped out — this is a big victory."

Wheeler has been working for two years with the California Tree Mortality Task Force, in conjunction with other counties to address the issues and find financing solutions for the estimated 129 million dead trees statewide, due to drought and bark beetle infestation.

"The combined total Madera County was awarded is a little over $2 million and up to $4 million if needed, " said Wheeler. "This is a lot more money than we thought the state would come through with."

Some of the funding will be matched through CalFire’s Local Assistance for Tree Mortality Grant Program. CalFire is set to grant $573,511 to Madera County.

The county has contracted Blue Ridge Services, a local waste and vegetation management company, to tackle an estimated 11,000 trees through a "strategic and multi-layered approach" that will focus on reducing risks to public safety.

Blue Ridge's initial plan of attack will be clearing dead trees from county property and along county-maintained roads where fire or falling trees could damage critical infrastructure.

According to Blue Ridge, trees cut down on private property as the project unfolds will remain in that location. Blue Ridge will cut the trees to contour the land, and tree limbs will be scattered to encourage decomposition. This strategy is to maximize the impact of limited funding.

The planning is just beginning and regular updates will be made available on Blue Ridge's website. There is a Facebook page devoted to the project titled Madera County Tree Mortality Project.

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