Dead tree problem in the Sierra has been turned into a hazard by storm

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Tree trimmers are in a race against time to cut down the pine trees killed by the bark beetle infestation. (KFSN)

If you look into the tree tops around Bass Lake you might just see a bald eagle-- or a man with a chainsaw. Tree trimmers are in a race against time to cut down the pine trees killed by the bark beetle infestation.

"Right now we are removing trees, non-stop, seven days a week," said Ricky Mowbray, Mowbray's Tree Service.

The original reason to remove these dead trees was because they posed a fire hazard, but now with all this wet weather the danger is they can fall over on houses and power lines.

"If the trees don't fall just as the result of them being weakened, the soil conditions also are getting looser. The soil is more saturated and so just the roots ability just to hold is becoming degraded as well," said Dean Gould, US Forest Service.

Mowbray and his workers are among the crews hired to remove the dead trees. The work is especially tough in the tight residential areas around Bass Lake. The only way to get to the trees is by lifting the tree cutters into the tree tops, where they cut the trees from the top down, with the crane removing them a section at a time.

"These cranes are gonna help us just doing the work more safely. Some of these trees have been dead too long, they are past the point where we can actually climb them. So we need to put guys in with the crane and crane them out; especially dangerous trees near houses, power lines."

Residents want to see the danger reduced.

"I'm glad they are cutting the ones down around here because I am afraid they are going to fall down and do some damage to the houses and that. But sad to see all the trees disappear," said Bob Bratty, Bass Lake resident. "We've had this place since '76 and we are used to a lot of trees, and now it's getting bare, you know."

It's estimated there are at least 100 million dead trees in the Sierra. Meaning lots of work ahead for Mowbray and his crew.

"It's going to be going on for years, with all these trees and all the dangers they pose to people and the public it's just amazing."

While the number of dead trees continues to grow, the silver lining to all this rain is that the surviving trees are finally getting the water they need.

"In the long run it is exactly what they need to get back to a healthy condition," said Gould.

Related Topics:
weathertree fallstormmadera countyBass Lake
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