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No matter where you live, everybody has something to deal with. In the Midwest it’s tornadoes. On the east coast it’s hurricanes. In the north it is bitter cold. Here in the mountains of Southern California it’s fire. (Well, earthquakes too, but who’s counting??)
Several factors have come together to create a frightening situation here. Decades of a “save everything in the forest no matter what” management policy plus a severe drought, plus an infestation of insects have resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of trees. We’re talking about 100-foot tall pine trees here, folks ... really huge trees with trunks that can be four or five feet in diameter and even bigger.
Imagine a quiet neighborhood, homes spread apart but not too far apart, with hundreds of giant, beautiful, green trees that provide shade and beauty. Now imagine all of those trees as dead or dying. Sure it’s ugly to look at, but there’s a bigger problem. Fire.
If a fire gets started, the dead trees will literally explode like bombs, and you can pretty much write off the neighborhood. Even if there is no fire, there is danger from them falling.
At first blush, it seems simple. Cut the dead trees down and haul them away. The ramifications and complications of that solution, though, are staggering. Here are just a few:
First, it can cost up to $1,000 to cut down each tree, and many homeowners can’t afford it. What about property owners whose primary residences are not in danger of fire and therefore have less incentive to act?
What do we do if they refuse to remove their dead trees? After all, fire won’t restrict itself to a specific property, so if their trees burn, our homes do too.
Who will pay for dead trees to be removed from public land? What do we do with the dead trees? Some are full of the very insects that killed them, and if we aren’t careful we can accidentally help them spread.
Property values are going to suffer when dead trees are removed. Or will it? Bare land may become more valuable since builders won’t have to clear the lots. Some properties may benefit from a new view of our lake that was formerly blocked by trees.