The East Bay Regional Park District has received $13.5 million from the state to improve its ability to fight wildfires and remove fuels like dead and dying trees, district officials said.
The district will use $10 million of the direct appropriation to remove potential fuels from parks around the region while the remaining $3.5 million will be used to buy and replace fire-combating equipment like the district’s aging helicopter.
“EBRPD has more than 1,500 acres of dead or dying trees affected by drought and climate change conditions that need immediate attention,” district Fire Chief Aileen Theile said in a statement.
Park district officials first noticed the sudden tree die-off in October 2020 and estimate that it will cost roughly $30 million on top of the $20.5 million the district has spent over the last decade to remove the stricken trees from all district’s parks.
According to the district, Anthony Chabot and Reinhardt Redwood regional parks in Oakland, Miller Knox Regional Shoreline in Richmond and Tilden Regional Park in Berkeley and Orinda are most in need of forest management to reduce the risk of wildfires in the region.
“The East Bay Regional Park District … is not immune from these dangerous conditions,” Wieckowski said. “By removing dead trees and other sources that fuel wildfires, the district is proactively working to reduce risks and improve safety, and these funds will help accelerate the process.”
To further reduce the risk of wildfires, the district has prohibited smoking in any district-operated park and also banned building fires outside of designated areas for the remainder of the fire season.
Photo: A worker in Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park in May cuts the limb off of a pine tree affected by a new pattern of mass tree death. The East Bay Regional Park District received a $10 million appropriation to remove dead and dying trees. Credit: EBRPD