Sunday, March 2, 2014

Tree removal for a safer, more healthy reflection

If you look at it like Mahatma Gandhi, “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.” 

In the burn area of the Black Forest Fire, thousands of damaged and dangerous trees, are not only making the forest unsafe for people, but also unhealthy for the forest itself.

"Public health, safety and welfare are El Paso County’s chief priorities. All of these are affected by the free and unconstrained use of public property by El Paso County citizens. Hazard trees with roots, trunks and branches weakened by fire can easily topple, posing a serious safety risk to both people and property,"according to the county's statement about hazard removal on their site.
"The Black Forest Wildfire in June 2013 produced many such trees. The first step in making the public safe is for the County to begin removing trees that pose a hazard to the public. The county cannot remove all hazard trees in the burn area but is responsible for the areas that are owned by the county - the areas people use most. The first priority will be removing unsafe trees that are on and adjacent to county maintained roads and trails."
The site explains how hazard tree removal is funded:
• On July 26, 2013, the President declared the Black Forest Wildfire a national disaster. The county, along with Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA), provided estimated costs of the damages incurred and mitigation of dangerous situations to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The costs included hazard tree removal.
• FEMA will provide reimbursement to the county (and MVEA) for 75 percent of the actual costs incurred. El Paso County will pay for the remaining 25 percent.
United States Forest Service (USFS) and FEMA, along the El Paso County established the following criteria to determine which trees are removed.
If a tree is tall enough to fall onto or into a structure, a county-maintained road, or a county- maintained trail, or if a tree’s diameter is six inches or greater, and measured 4.5 feet above the ground on the uphill side of the tree, the tree will be removed.
The county-contracted crews will also remove a damaged tree if it is within county right-of-way, or within 60 feet of a county-maintained trail.
Dead trees, or those likely to die as defined by all needles and/or leaves are burned off; or the crown volume scorched is greater than 50%; or cambium kill circumference is greater than 50% at the base will be removed.
Ceres Environmental will perform the tree removal services and the county, with the assistance of True North Emergency Management, will oversee the work which began last week and will continue until done.
Hopefully, the work will offer a healthy, less-hazardous reflection of our public county property.

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