IMPORTANT INFORMATION on Tree Mortality and "Interpretation Offer"

Sonora, CA – Among the latest projects being tackled by the Tuolumne County Tree Mortality Task Force are some geared to helping local residents deal with dead and dying trees on their properties.

Before its unanimous vote Tuesday morning to extend the local emergency, the board heard from OES Coordinator Tracie Riggs. She brought the board up to date on the latest developments involving her office and the local and state-level Tree Mortality Task Force activities, which included a recent site visit from CAL Fire Chief Ken Pimlott to a residential tree removal project still underway in Twain Harte at Leisure Pines, as reported here. Riggs said she was pleased to report that the chief saw and understood, firsthand, the need for more funding to help individual landowners deal with the rapid rise of dead and dying trees on their properties.

Expressing some frustration, Riggs described that her office has only received about half of the over 900 right-of-entry forms that were sent to Mi-Wuk Village residents ahead of planning three major tree removal efforts there. Some of the letters she received back, she said, contained modifications to the wording, which automatically negates the form.

Project Delays Due To Right-of-entry Forms

Board Chair Karl Rodefer weighed in with his thoughts for landowners. “I just want to talk to the public a little bit about these letters of entry that we are asking you to sign to allow us to come on — and fix your problem for you, basically. If you don’t sign those and we don’t come on that increases your potential liability if that tree should fall and damage something on someone else’s property. So you have an opportunity.”

Referring to the state-required “legalese” wording on the forms, which has raised suspicions among some landowners Rodefer maintained, “So we [have] some limitations put on us by the state, because it is their money that we are using. Please cooperate with us. We are not in there to create mayhem. We are in there to try and help you.”

(The italics above are editorial, i.e. by Blythe.)

In addition to a Hazard Mitigation grant application recently submitted by her office through which CAL OES would provide 75 percent funding for residential tree removals with a 25 percent match from property owners, Riggs stated that staff and task force stakeholders were lining up other funding opportunities to provide further financial relief for seniors and residents with disabilities. With support from Chief Pimlott and CAL Fire, she said, it may soon be possible to extend similar assistance for others who verifiably are not able to meet the 25 percent match.

Written by Tori James

Homeowners, now that you have read the article based upon Tuesday morning’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting………..

I received a called from Gregory Oliver, Attorney and Mi Wuk Village resident, who offers a free weekly legal program at Catholic Charities.

Gregory has offered to chair a meeting at the Mi Wuk Library next Thursday afternoon, July 14th if enough people are interested and have questions about this Right of Entry FormThe meeting would be held at a time to yet be determined between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m., during library hours.

It seems that a major concern of homeowners is that by signing the Right of Entry Form you waive any rights you may have against the County or its contractors if something happens that causes damages.  Attorney Oliver states that homeowners should check with their insurance company to make sure that any claims caused by the County’s tree removal program will be paid even if the homeowner has signed the Right of Entry Form.  Attorney Oliver has agreed to answer any of your questions about what that it means to sign the Right of Entry Form.  So far, approximately 50% of Mi Wuk Village homeowners have returned the signed Right of Entry Form to the County.  The County must receive 75% of the Right of Entry Forms returned before it will begin the tree removal process in Mi Wuk Village.

Please leave a comment (button below the post) to this post or send me an email, blythek@mac.com if you would be interested in such an informational meeting at the Library on July 14th.  If you unable to attend, but have questions, send your question to my.  You may do so in the comment box or by sending an email to me blythek@mac.com .  I’ll keep you posted about the meeting.

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8 Comments

  1. Avatar

    As a new owner and not having a Post Office box at the time the letters were mailed, we never received the letter. We only found out by talking with neighbors. I am confident, that given the information we could easily get to the 75% numbers. Also, why must we get 75% returned, this would be a shame if we only get 65% returned and none of us get the funding aid.

    Finally, will there be second letters that go out? I am curious how these vacation home-owners are to even know that such an opportunity exists.

    1. Blythe

      Mark, I will be getting answers to your good questions and posting them here on the blog. One comment I can make for sure is that the letters were sent to all property owners (at the time of sending) at their addresses of record with the county, i.e. the property tax address, not to their Mi Wuk vacation home addresses.

      I’m hoping that this post will further inform homeowners of the importance of this opportunity and what the county needs from us.

  2. Avatar

    Any plans to include Sugar Pine in the tree removal plan? Haven’t seen anything yet.

    1. Blythe

      Unfortunately not Bill. This is a test run in Leisure Pines and then Mi Wuk Village. What happens after the test is unknown right now. Sorry for the not-so-good-news.

  3. Avatar

    We also have property in Sugar Pine and would like any information as to the removal of the trees on our property. Where can we obtain the right of entry form if it was even sent (can I download it?). We can’t make the meeting today at the library so any information would be great.

    Thanks
    Jose and Lisa Martinez

    1. Blythe

      Jose and Lisa, I will be finding out where to get a Right of Entry form today and will get back to you. I don’t know about downloading it but will know that later today as well. Sugar Pine is not included in this tree removal program since this is a ‘test program’ along with Leisure Pines. The meeting for Right of Entry Form information is Thursday, JULY 14th. If you can’t make the meeting, I will definitely be posting the discussions. ~Blythe

  4. Avatar

    Blythe,
    We are property owners in Sugar Pine. A few months ago we signed a Notice of Tree Work with PG&E. Work to remove 7 dead pines on our property to begin August or September. We came up to our cabin Sunday. Monday Pacific Coast Tree Experts were here. All trees had a red dot. They didn’t use a crane and their worker didn’t use a figure 8 to tie off the 10ft log.It fell and hit our garage roof and front porch doing extensive damage. Thought your readers would like to know about this.
    Thanks, Diane & Steve Garcia

    1. Blythe

      Ouch, Diane and Steve, Have you called PG&E about the damage? Be sure to mention the red dot! I’d like to hear a follow up on this. ~Blythe

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