By Chris Frost
Oxnard-- The City of Oxnard’s Public Works and Transportation Committee approved a budget appropriation to leverage funds for dead tree removal in Oxnard during its May 28, meeting.
The city will appropriate $87,500 from Measure O to fund the Tree Mortality Event Response Grant.
The city is eligible for $262,500, plus an additional 10 percent for administrative fees.
Parks Manager Erik Garwick presented the item to the committee and said in 2016-2017, the city went through a drought that affected the majority of the city’s trees.
Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency because of the drought in Oct. 2015, which brought about the high tree mortality.
“Under this grant, it allows us to get 75 percent of whatever we spend to remove the dead trees,” Garwick said. “On May 22, 2018, the city council adopted a resolution authorizing the city manager to submit an application for federal financial assistance for the dead or dying tree removal.”
The city began removing 201 dead trees from its park system in early 2018, he said, and there are an estimated 613 more dead trees in the park system.
“Under our current condition, the city is eligible to request reimbursement of up to 75 percent for that grant,” he said. “In order to complete the tree removal work, an additional appropriation of Measure O Funds is required.
Committee Member Tim Flynn asked how long it will take to remove the remaining trees and Garwick said it depends on how the city applies the grant.
“West Coast Arborists (WCA) has multiple crews and also internal staff, so we can probably look at over a year to get rid of those trees,” Garwick said. “There are no specific species that are most affected, each tree had a lack of water, so it was a total loss of multiple species.”
In the future, Garwick told Flynn the city could install a drip irrigation system and use water trucks with reclaimed water.
Committee Member Bryan MacDonald said he loves the program and wants the department to locate more grant funding rather than pulling them out and leaving the space bare.
“We do currently have a grant right now, and we are planting about 1,000 trees,” Garwick said. “We are in the process of replacing them as we remove them.”
Chairman Bert Perello commented that the groundwater table has fallen and asked what happens to the removed trees.
“WCA repurposes the trees,” Garwick said. “They make benches, all different types of furniture and if the tree is completely gone, they use it for mulch.”
Public Work Director Rosemarie Gaglione said the water table has dropped.
“The roots of the trees used to be in the zone where they would get water without supplying irrigation water,” she said. “The water table has recovered somewhat; it’s still not enough for the trees. When it got to the lowest point, the roots were not able to access any water without external irrigation.”
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