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Sign-Ups For Aid To Remove Dead Pine Trees End Jan. 31

Reddening bark and tree crowns are signs that ponderosa or western white pine trees have fallen victim to the California fivespined ips bark beetle. The Underwood Conservation District is urging landowners with trees attacked by beetles to sign up for the Beetle-Killed Tree Assistance program, which reimburses landowners for up to 50 percent of the cost incurred from removing dead pine trees.

Reddening bark and tree crowns are signs that ponderosa or western white pine trees have fallen victim to the California fivespined ips bark beetle. The Underwood Conservation District is urging landowners with trees attacked by beetles to sign up for the Beetle-Killed Tree Assistance program, which reimburses landowners for up to 50 percent of the cost incurred from removing dead pine trees. Photo by Amber Marra.

The Underwood Conservation District is continuing to offer the opportunity for landowners who remove pine trees killed by the California fivespined ips to be partially reimbursed through late February as long as they sign up by the end of January.

In order to take advantage of the “Beetle-Killed Tree Assistance” program through the Underwood Conservation District, landowners need to sign up for the Tree Felling Interest List on the district’s website at www.ucdwa.org by the end of January, according to Dan Richard-son, watershed resource technician with the Underwood Conservation District.

By doing so, the process can be set in motion in time for the trees to be removed without the risk of further attracting more bark beetles to the area, according to Richardson. Entomologists have confirmed to the district previously that the ips bark beetle is dormant during the winter, so by addressing the trees that have been infested during that time the chances of spreading or attracting the beetle are minimized.

“Through the end of February we won’t be attracting or bringing in any additional beetles because they tend to be attracted to the hormones they release from freshly cut trees,” Richardson said. “In order to have all the work done by the end of February we need everyone to be on board by the end of January.”

The Underwood Conservation District has been able to offer landowners the Beetle-Killed Tree Assistance program for a few months now. The program stems from a multi-state grant with the Oregon Department of Forestry called Partnership for Resilient Forests in the Columbia River Gorge Wildland Urban Interface, according to Tova Tillinghast, district manager, in the Nov. 5 edition of The Enterprise.

A total of $29,000 is available for tree felling assistance through the program, which the Underwood Conservation District hopes will reduce the hazard of dead or dying pine trees falling on structures or posing a wildfire risk.

Justin Black, who had three trees removed from his property in Husum, used the program once he noticed a dead tree leaning over his workshop.

“One was seriously leaning over my shop and another was leaning over a neighbor’s house that was 151 feet tall and four feet across at the base that had been dead for almost a year,” Black said.

In order for a partial reimbursement, trees must meet certain criteria set by the conservation district. Only ponderosa or western white pine trees killed by bark beetles located on private property, community areas, or property owned by counties, schools, or other local municipalities in western Klickitat County west of the Klickitat River and eastern Skamania County east of the Wind River will be considered.

After getting on the district’s Tree Felling List on the Web site, a coordinator, technician, or forester will visit the homeowner’s property to determine if the tree is eligible. The district coordinator analyzing the tree will determine if it is “significantly stressed,” or dying, meaning it has at least 30 percent or more of the tree crown reddening or obviously dead.

Eligible trees are at least 10 inches in diameter at breast height, 50 feet tall, within 1.5 times the height of the tree from a house, barn, or building larger than 500 square feet, a utility line, or public right of way.

Participation is on a first-come, first-serve basis and arranging for the actual removal of eligible trees is the responsibility of the landowner, who must use a licensed arborist or tree service.

If so, the district reimburses the landowner up to 50 percent of the cost to remove the tree. The district will pay $500 for a tree between 50 and 60 feet tall, $800 for a tree between 60 and 80 feet tall, and $1,000 for trees taller than 80 feet.

After the tree is removed, the landowner submits an invoice to the Underwood Conservation District and a staff member inspects the site to make sure the tree was felled according to the program standards. All trees must either be chipped or hauled away by the arborist or landowner to prevent the further spread of bark beetles.

Dino Terrana had two trees removed from his property in White Salmon and said he saved $500 using the Underwood Conservation District’s program. Now he hopes his neighbor will do the same.

“It’s a great benefit for homeowners and landowners and if people aren’t using it they should because not only are they a danger to break and fall, but they’re also a huge fire hazard,” Terrana said.

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