Identify Tree Mortality By Colorful Forests

California’s ongoing battle with bark beetle infestations and tree mortality has taken a colorful turn. Caltrans is marking all dead and dying trees with orange paint to correctly and efficiently identify hazardous trees that could impact the safety of travelers along the state highway.

To prevent dead and dying trees from falling toward the roadway and blocking traffic or causing injury and damage, Caltrans will paint identified trees and then quickly begin the next phase of cutting and removing.

Marked trees along highways may be on federal, state, county or private property, thus written permission must be provided by property owners before Caltrans can proceed. There is no cost to the property owner.

However, if a property owner does not respond to the “Permission to Enter” form, or denies permission, the hazardous trees will not be removed and the owner is responsible for any future damage.

Tree mortality has already stripped the state of more than 100 million dead trees, with that total expected to climb when the next survey numbers are released, likely in November.

The Tree Mortality Task Force, which is comprised of state and federal agencies, local governments, utilities and various stakeholders, coordinates emergency protective actions and monitors ongoing conditions to address the vast tree mortality resulting from unprecedented drought and the resulting bark beetle infestations across large regions of the state.

Governor Edmund G. Brown rescinded the drought state of emergency order, excluding four counties, in April in the wake of one of the wettest winters in state history. Only Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne counties remain in a drought emergency.

Still, tree mortality is a long-term issue. By comparison, more than 830 million trees have died in Colorado during a decade-long bout with tree mortality.

Click here to learn more about Caltrans’ hazardous tree identification process.


Additional resources:


Cal OES Recovery Division


Tree Mortality Task Force


Jonathan Gudel

Jonathan Gudel is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). Since joining Cal OES, he has assisted in the response and recovery efforts of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, the state's historic drought, the Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, unprecedented winter storms in 2017, the October (Sonoma County) and December (Santa Barbara County) 2017 wildfires, and statewide wildfire siege in 2018 . Previously, he worked in the newspaper industry for 12 years.

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