The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) is planning to remove 30 large, non-native eucalyptus and pine trees in Red Rock Canyon. The trees, planted more than 50 years ago when the property was a Boy Scout camp, have been identified as a fire hazard.
The MRCA is applying to the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services’ (CalOES) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) for funding to cover the project, which is defined as a hazard mitigation project for hazardous fuel reduction.
The HMGP is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) proportionally as part of any Presidential Disaster Declaration in California that followed the Woolsey Fire. Projects on land owned by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC) are eligible, so long as they are consistent with the California State Hazard Mitigation Plan.
While many of the applications being submitted during CalOES’ application period for HMGP projects are related to the aftermath of the Woolsey Fire, the Red Rock Canyon proposal seeks to mitigate future fire risk.
The trees “pose an elevated risk during fire related events,” the staff report on the proposal finds. “Removal of these trees is a good fit for HMGP funds, and fuel hazard reduction within this wildland-urban interface area is consistent with the State Hazard Mitigation Plan.”
The MRCA is seeking $63,700 for the tree removal project. If funding is not secured, the project will be postponed until suitable funding is secured. If awarded, the grant requires a 25 percent match of $21,250 for a total maximum project cost of $85,000. Funding for the match is expected to come from funds granted for fire resilience activities.
The size of the trees and the narrowness of the access road are a challenge. The report specifies that “arborist crews supported with small equipment” would be utilized for the project. The report states that each tree will be individually assessed in preparation for the grant application, and that the removal project can take up to two years to complete, indicating that not all of the trees would be removed at once.