SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in California announced Monday it will provide financial assistance for private landowners with dead and dying conifer forest trees in certain counties, including San Diego.
"The dry conditions posed by California's ongoing drought have increased the potential for devastating wildfires and insect-related tree mortality,'' said Carlos Suarez, NRCS California state conservationist.
"In the upcoming year, NRCS will continue and expand our 2016 forest recovery efforts by initially allocating $4 million for tree mortality projects,'' he said. "We will also provide additional forestry staff to meet
the overwhelming demand for assistance.''
Landowners with dead trees on non-industrial private conifer forestlands in Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Kern, Lake, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Nevada, Placer, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Tulare and Tuolumne counties may be eligible for financial assistance through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
The Forest Tree Mortality Initiative is focused on removing dead trees on larger, severely damaged, private forestlands. Applicants will need to develop a Forest Management Plan for their property, which must be a minimum size of one acre and at least 100 feet wide.
Applicants with more than 20 percent of their conifer forestland property covered with dead trees will receive priority funding consideration.
An approved NRCS Forest Management Plan for tree mortality will not include tree removal on lands within 100 feet of homes, and applicants should contact their county's tree mortality task force about opportunities for
removing dead trees around residences.
Approved conservation practices include treating or removing woody residue from dead or dying trees, thinning overstocked forest stands, and tree planting.
"Our focus is to combine healthy forest practices with the need to sequester carbon and improve soil health,'' Suarez said.
Interested applicants are encouraged to get their applications to their local NRCS service center as soon as possible. NRCS will process applications and visit an applicant's property prior to Dec. 9. There will be additional funding opportunities in 2017.
Eligible landowners should contact their local county NRCS service center for more information and to apply. In San Diego County, (760) 745-2061.
Since its inception in 1935, NRCS has worked in partnership with private landowners and a variety of local, state and federal conservation partners to deliver conservation based on specific, local needs.