Grass Valley declares emergency of tree mortality; launches reforestation program
The Grass Valley City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a program to replant trees in the community taken out by a vicious bark beetles outbreak caused by the ongoing drought.
Council members also declared a local emergency in the City of Grass Valley due to conifer tree mortality.
“The severity of this is devastating,” said City Engineer Tim Kiser, “getting ahead of this is critical to keep the characteristic of our (community).”
Kiser said the forested nature of Grass Valley defines the community and attracts visitors to the area.
As part of the Grass Valley Community Reforestation Program, city officials will work with community organizations to grow 1,200 ponderosa pine and sugar pine trees native to Nevada County in areas affected by the infestation.
According to a staff report, the city is at risk of losing 80 to 90 percent of its conifer tree population in the upcoming years if the drought persists.
Staff has removed 250 trees infested by bark beetles this year so far, which is a significant increase compared to an average of 10 trees taken down per year on city properties due to old age, storm or other hazardous circumstances, officials said.
“We probably have another 20 to 30 trees this year that we need to cut down just on city properties,” said Kiser. He told The Union that 2016 is by far the worst year in terms of tree mortality.
Staff has recently removed 137 trees in Condon Park, he added.
Kiser said the goal of the program is to get a head start on reforestation to help the city fend itself against a potential increase in tree mortality rate.
“I think this will be something that is imperative for us to get a handle on and challenge other groups in the community to assist us,” said Kiser. “This is not something that the city could do on its own.”
He spoke with school principals to get the schools involved in helping to grow the trees. He also plans to meet with representatives from the Nevada Irrigation District, which has similar vested interest in the forests, to discuss coordination on the project, he said.
“As we move forward, we will be looking at other items, this is a first step of many steps,” said Kiser.
For people interested in assisting with the program, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact Staff Writer Teresa Yinmeng Liu, please email email@example.com, or call 530-477-4236.
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