Concerns raised over dead trees in Oceanside

Posted at 6:42 PM, Mar 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-18 21:47:21-04

Some residents in Oceanside are concerned with dead trees near their homes that may pose a future safety threat.

Michelle Richter contacted 10News for help after the trees near hear home along the San Luis Rey River started dying.

"The first response I got was it's a mess down there nobody wants to deal with it," Richter said.

Richter moved along the river in the early 1990s -- a few years before the Army Corps of Engineers and the city of Oceanside partnered on the San Luis Rey River Flood Control Project.

The project called for the planting of alder trees, but for a couple years, they've been dead or are dying.

The city's public works manager said the trees are dying due to the drought and possibly a bark beetle infestation.

Richter contacted 10News with three main concerns. She said the trees are perfect fuel for a fire. She's also seen pieces of the trees flying through the air when the wind picks up She is also concerned that all of this is going to flow downstream when it rains and clog the drains.

"My biggest fear is fire season because embers can fly so far and it wouldn't matter if the fire was started at Camp Pendleton; the embers can fly this far. We have homeless living down here that start fires at night. You can smell the smoke burning," she said.

The Army Corps of Engineers and the city told 10News they can't clean up the trees as part of their compliance of several environmental laws, including the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, California Endangered Species Act, California Department of Fish and Game Code 1600-1607 and the Coastal Zone Management Act.

They must protect three types of birds living along the riverbed, primarily the Least Bell's Vireo.

The Corps made it clear that this does not mean the trees could never be removed.