FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Caltrans contractors are directed to minimally disturb the soil, and to collect and dispose of tree branches and large woody debris that result from tree cutting operations. Most dead and dying trees have been dropping their pine needles for months, and these needles will not be removed. Both pine needles and wood chips provide protection from soil erosion during wet weather events, such as rain and snow.
Yes, the property owner can keep the wood as long as it is not sold, bartered or traded. This restriction is in the 2017 California Forest Practice Rules and the “Public Agency, Public and Private Utility Right of Way Exemption Permit” regulations. View the Regulations that apply to the Tree Mortality Emergency on the Regulations tab.

The property owner must provide their request to keep the wood on the Permission to Enter form.
Caltrans hazardous tree removal projects are already underway across the state. Each project has a Resident Engineer overseeing a general Contractor and a Licensed Timber Operator performing the work. Once a project begins, the Projects link will provide you with more specific information on the Caltrans project status nearest your property.
No, Caltrans only removes trees along highways that could impact the safe operation of highways. If your home is located in one of the 10 high hazard zones (Kern, Tulare, Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, Tuolumne, Calaveras, Amador, Placer or El Dorado), call your county’s Office of Emergency Management or the local CALFIRE office and ask for information regarding help with hazardous tree removal.
Registered Professional Foresters (RPF) and Arborists, with Tree Risk Assessment Qualifications (TRAQ) assess, mark and map only dead, diseased and dying hazardous trees.
Starting September 14, 2017 and working until weather restricts satisfactory progress in October or November 2017, hazardous dead and dying tree removal efforts will be concentrated on US Forest Service and State Park properties adjacent to State Highway 89, starting from Luther Pass and working north. This project does not have the funding to reach private properties this season, however another project is anticipated to begin next year after snow melts that would address trees in the Homewood/Tahoma area. In addition, private property owners would have to provide legal permission to Caltrans following the Permission to Enter process prior to tree removal.

Homeowners can remove trees using their own contractors at any time ahead of Caltrans’ work. Contact the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) to inquire if a separate tree permit would be required if you choose to remove trees on your property. You can reach TRPA at http://www.trpa.org/contact/ or call (775) 588-4547 or visit the public counter at 128 Market Street, Stateline, NV 89449.
California forests affect everyone. California has an amazing ecosystem and watershed that work cohesively to provide healthy air and water. Trees in the forests are just as vital to clean water and air as the trees in your own backyard.

Healthy forests and individual trees along California’s highways help regulate our climate by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it as carbon in the soil, branches, and trunks of trees.

Proper forest management includes removing hazardous dead and dying trees, thinning dense tree stands and prescribed fire treatment. Healthy, more resilient forests are better equipped to survive during drought and from attack by insects and other diseases.

Healthy forests, even during drought, can continue absorbing carbon from the atmosphere at a significant rate, and the larger the tree, the more carbon it will pull from the atmosphere on an annual basis. Healthy forests absorb and store more carbon, making them a more stable carbon investment for the long-term.

Managing forests in California to be healthy, resilient net sinks of carbon is a vital part of California’s approach to addressing climate change.

By adapting quickly and working together to help manage the various lands in California we can maintain and restore our forests into healthy public resources.
Forests cover 33% of California, but provide resources and benefits, such as clean air and water, to everyone in California. However, the forests are suffering. Between the extended prolonged drought and the bark beetle epidemic, over 102 million trees have died in our forests since 2010.

Federal, state and local organizations and agencies are working together to help manage the millions of acres of forested lands across the state. Most Californians do not live in these areas, yet all are positively or negatively impacted by the conditions of our forests.

Dead trees are a normal part of our eco-systems and provide habitats for wildlife, but this type of tree die-off is unprecedented and creates health and safety concerns for all Californians. If dead and dying trees fall on public roads, they can cause injury or damage, and stop the flow of transportation including the movement of people, goods and commerce for days.

An urban forest is a collection of trees that grow within a city or suburb. Urban forestry is the care and management of single trees and tree populations in urban settings for the purpose of improving the urban environment. Urban forestry advocates the role of trees as a critical part of the urban infrastructure.

Urban areas need trees to help cool cities and towns, help clean the air capture and filter storm water, improve health and well-being, and help capture carbon and store it long term.

Trees in urban areas help provide many of the same benefits as forested lands, just in a more localized effect where 95% of Californians live. Urban forests can give urban residents a point of reference for how to manage other forested landscapes for multiple purposes.

Trees in cities are typically planted along roads, highways and parks. These landscaped areas are managed by maintenance crews, public works or parks departments. Trees on private property in your yard are also part of the urban forest. Urban trees normally receive supplemental water through an irrigation system. This extra water prevents massive die-off, but because the drought was severe, urban trees in California are also dying and need to be removed to prevent injury and damage.
Over 25 million Californians receive their water from the Sierra. Learn more about how water travels from the Sierra into the Delta and into your faucets.

The Sierra is the state’s main watershed and accounts for 60% of our water.

The Sierra snowpack is the largest form of natural water storage, so acting now to help to maximize that resource is crucial for water supplies statewide.

National forests are one of the largest sources of water in the U.S and in California.
Scientists are observing longer and hotter drought periods in California; trees under drought stress do not have enough water to stay green and resist pest infestation. They can die in a matter of a few years. As trees across forests die in mass numbers, they become a serious concern for land managers who look at the dying forest as fuel for wildfires. A lightning strike, a spark from a backfiring vehicle, or an unauthorized campfire can start a wildfire that quickly becomes out of control and a risk to life and property.

Educating the public is one our best tools to help prevent wildfires, and explain why proper forest management benefits everyone, even urban residents.

Forest management activities, such as thinning and prescribed fires, emit carbon in the short term, but they help to store more carbon in the long term by making forests more resilient to fire and drought.

Related Links

Public Education

  • Tree Mortality Task Force

    The Tree Mortality Task Force is comprised of state and federal agencies, local governments, utilities, and various stakeholders that will coordinate emergency protective actions, and monitor ongoing conditions to address the vast tree mortality resulting from four years of unprecedented drought and the resulting bark beetle infestations across large regions of the State.

  • CALFIRE Bark Beetles and Dead Trees

    Millions of California trees are dead, increasing the risk of wildfire. Learn more about bark beetles, dead tree removal and seasonal actions.