Hirschman’s closed for tree removal | TheUnion.com

Hirschman’s closed for tree removal

Loggers are removing dead and dying trees from the area around Nevada City’s Hirschman’s Pond this month, a reminder of the long-term effects of California’s most recent drought.

Nevada City began surveying its dead trees last summer, and have since begun removal projects at five city-owned locations, including the Old Airport property, Sugarloaf, Hirschman’s Pond, and areas off of Spring Street and Old Downieville Highway, according to Public Works Superintendent Chris Schack. The project is being funded by a grant from Cal Fire.

Schack said the number of trees the city estimated it needed to cut down has increased by 30 percent since the initial count last year.

“A lot of people have been noticing that we’re taking down what look like live trees,” Schack said. “But we have an arborist, a bird surveyor and a forester looking through these trees. The ones that are seemingly green are dying and will be dead soon.”

Schack said the dead trees pose both fire and public safety risks if they aren’t removed. Trees that have been cut down at Hirschman’s are being mulched on site, or hauled away by Ridge Logging, which is doing the removal work, according to Schack.

He expects the project to wrap up at Hirschman’s in the next few weeks. For now, he said, trail access is closed to the public for safety reasons.

“It’s a mess out there right now,” Schack said. “But when all the trees are removed the city will come back to do trail reconstruction and a final cleanup to make it look nice again.”

Drought conditions and bark beetle infestations have killed more than 102 million trees across the state, the U.S. Forest Service estimates.

Bark beetles are attracted to old, diseased or stressed trees, where they lay eggs underneath the bark and eat the cambium layer that carries trees’ nutrients. They also inject a fungus that prevents sap production.

California’s recent drought conditions significantly weakened many trees and provided the perfect habitat for the beetles. A healthy tree can secrete resin to kill invading bark beetles, but weakened trees are unable to produce that defensive response.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced this week an “unlikely collaboration” with the crew designing and building the temple for this year’s Burning Man event, the art and culture gathering that draws participants from around the world to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.

The temple builders reached out to PG&E to source wood from trees impacted by drought conditions and bark beetle infestation in an effort to raise awareness about the crisis in California’s forests, PG&E said in a release.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email mpera@theunion.com or call 530-477-4231.

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