The Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a $709,000 agreement with an Idyllwild-based timber contractor to eliminate hundreds of pest-infested dead or dying trees serving as potential kindling for wildfires in the San Jacinto Mountains.
In a 5-0 vote without comment, the board authorized the Riverside County Fire Department to utilize Pearson Wood Service to remove the trees between now and next March.
All of the funds for the operation originate from a state grant, according to the fire department.
The roughly 350 trees targeted are in or near the San Bernardino National Forest, officials said. No private land will be impacted.
“The area has experienced significant drought conditions, which have caused non-native insects to ravage the trees,” according to an agency statement. “The (state) has declared the area a `zone of infestation’ for both the Pine Bark Bettle and the Gold-spotted Oak Borer.”
The timber will be cut down to reduce and prevent infestation, as well as eliminate “fuel” for forest fires, county fire Chief Bill Weiser said. He said the removal sites will additionally be treated to promote healthy growth.
The operation will comply with all aspects of the California Forest Practice Act, officials said.