Union Democrat staff

For more information about tree mortality in the county, go to www.tuolumnecounty.ca.gov. For questions about the county’s tree mortality programs, contact the tree mortality community information hotline at (209) 533-6394.

With a number of programs available to help homeowners remove dead or dying trees from their land, the Tuolumne County Office of Emergency Services has scheduled a public event next month at the Mother Lode Fairgrounds to give people information about their options.

The office will host a workshop from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 4 in the Manzanita building at the fairgrounds to meet with people about the various efforts in place to protect the public from the threat posed by the large number of trees that have been killed by drought and bark beetles in the past couple years.

“This is a great opportunity for our residents to get valuable information about what community resources are out there,” said Deputy County Administrator Tracie Riggs, the local OES coordinator.

Representatives from county OES, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Cal Fire, Caltrans, California Department of Parks and Recreation, Tuolumne Utilities District, Mi-Wuk Sugar Pine Fire District, Highway 108 Fire Safe Council, Yosemite Foothills Fire Safe Council and the nonprofit Tree Mortality Aid Program will be on hand at the event.

Over the past year, the county has worked with local contractors to remove dead or dying trees threatening public roads and other infrastructure through funding provided by the California Disaster Assistance Act.

Riggs was recognized by Cal Fire last month with a partnership award for helping the county lead the charge in the effort to protect the public from threats caused by tree mortality.

A coalition of mostly nonprofit organizations and government agencies also came together last year to start the Tree Mortality Aid Program, or TMAP, to assist low-income seniors and adults with disabilities in removing dead or dying trees from their property.

The group has raised over $50,000 for the work, mostly through donations and a $20,000 grant from the Sonora Area Foundation.

Although the county’s program funded largely through the CDAA is limited to only trees threatening public infrastructure, it received a total of $2.4 million in Cal Fire grants to begin removing dead or dying trees near people’s homes in Cedar Ridge, Columbia, East Sonora, Groveland, Mi-Wuk Village, Phoenix Lake, Soulsbyville and Twain Harte.