Unlike the rest of California, the California Department of Transportation’s (CalTrans) fiscal years ends on July 31st. As this date nears, CalTrans will be looking to spend any money they haven’t already spent in their budget. One of the ways CalTrans can spend unused budget money is by offering extra contracts for the emergency removal of dead trees near power lines, freeways, highways, roads and other public works.
Many homeowners are having to watch their trees die, and this puts them, their neighbors and the public at risk. If a dead or dying tree were to fall over it could cause serious injury or death and damage homes, roads, highways and power lines. While homeowners don’t necessarily have access to state money to remove trees, if the tree could be dangerous for a public works project, it can be removed.
Due to severe drought conditions and a bark beetle infestation, there is an unprecedented number of trees dying in California. Many trees are being affected by the drought, but pines trees, and specifically ponderosa pine trees, are falling victim to a bark beetle infestation.
The amount of trees affected by the drought and bark beetles is so alarming that California Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency to address the problem. Gov. Brown mobilized funds for the removal of trees that are potentially hazardous to homeowners and the public. He said of the problem that “California is facing the worst epidemic of tree mortality in its modern history” and “a crisis of this magnitude demands action on all fronts.” He sought federal action in conjunction with making state funds available to start removing trees. It is estimated that 60 million trees in the state are dead or dying.
CalTrans and CalFire have been paying special attention to the Sierra Nevada mountain range because the dead and dying trees serve as perfect kindling for wildfires that the area will likely have this summer. US House Representative Tom McClintock (R-CA 4th) is trying to help secure federal funding from the Department of Interior to fight the problem. He has made an emphasis in his policy to “remove excess timber before it burns” and removing these trees plays a key role in controlling the risk for forest fires. They are perfect tinder for wildfires because they are dry and dead. By removing them, it would allow firefighters to put out Northern California wildfires with greater ease and safety. There is no benefit for these dead trees to remain in nature.
Because of the risks that dead and dying trees have to ecology and public safety, CalTrans and the State of California want them removed in rural, suburban and urban settings. There will likely be an increase in contracts available for tree removal, but those contracts are unavailable to those who are not bonded. Here at Surety1, we recently wrote a $4.2 million contract for the removal of 4,000-5,000 trees in California. With the number of trees the state hopes to get removed, there are plenty of opportunities to get contracts from the state for work.
However, those public works contracts are unavailable to those who do not get bonded. Bid bonds will be necessary to bid on these projects and performance and payment bonds will be a necessity for those who seek and win contracts with CalTrans to help cut down dead and dying trees.