State Senate Passes Bil to Boost Aid for Tree Mortality

Tree Work: Sierra Park Dr/Muheli/Lama Road
Tree Work: Sierra Park Dr/Muheli/Lama Road

By Alex MacLean, The Union Democrat

A Twain Harte Republican’s bill that would boost state funding to battle Tuolumne County’s tree mortality crisis was unanimously approved by the California State Senate on Wednesday.

All 40 state senators voted in favor of Senate Bill 265, authored by State Sen. Tom Berryhill, that would increase the amount of state aid the county receives from 75 percent to 90 percent of the cost for emergency tree removal.

“This bill will save lives,” Berryhill stated in a news release Wednesday.

More than 100 million trees throughout the state are believed to have died since 2010 due to a lack of water and related bark beetle infestation.

In Tuolumne County alone, the cost of removing all dead or dying trees threatening public roads and infrastructure is estimated at more than $12 million over the next three years.

The county’s share of the cost would be $2.1 million over the same period, all but wiping out its General Fund reserves that were at $2.3 million last year. That amount would be reduced to $300,000 if the legislation passes the Assembly and is signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, R-O’Neals, is co-author of the bill.

“I look forward to working with members of the Assembly and the governor on this important issue,” Berryhill stated.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.

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