Drought and bark beetle infestation across California killed more than 100-million trees. Even though the drought may be over, the infestation remains and the number of dead and dying trees is climbing.
The dead trees are a significant hazard. Strong winds or an unexpected thunderstorm could bring them down without warning.
The U.S. Forest Service and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) partnered with the California Conservation Corps to cut down and remove dead and dying trees in areas of concern that the trees could unexpectedly fall and cause injury.
Corpsmembers are trained in tree felling and using chain saws. They spend several days at a time camped on-site, or what we call “spikes”, to fell trees, saw them into manageable pieces and then stack them for removal.
Crews of 15 Corpsmembers fell and dispose 25 trees daily during their 8-day spikes.
In 2017, Corpsmembers focused their tree felling on two national forests – Stanislaus National Forest near Groveland and the Sequoia National Forest east of Bakersfield.
Americorps provides funding for much of the work taking place on federal land.
The tree felling benefits the environment, public and Corpsmembers:
- Reduced risk of trees falling on people, property, powerlines
- Lessen opportunities for wildfire
- Reduce spread of bark beetle infestation in areas of high public use
- Corpsmembers earn certifications in tree felling that can lead to meaningful careers