As Oregon moves to recover from devastating wildfires, burnt trees in the hundreds of thousands are threatening crews working to open roads and repair utilities across the state, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).
Many of these dangerous trees are on private property – and normally it would be the responsibility of the landowner to remove them, ODOT officials said.
To speed up the ability to get communities and roads open, ODOT said its crews and contractors will now get these trees down on the ground for the property owner at no cost.
“The danger we’re seeing for crews is truly unprecedented,” ODOT Maintenance Environmental Program manager Patti Caswell said. “We need to get in as quickly and safely as possible to get these trees out of the way.”
Property owners should be aware that crews may come onto their property to take down these trees, without the normal process of reaching out to the owners first regarding the dangerous trees, according to ODOT. The sheer number of trees and properties affected make the normal approach not feasible.
ODOT Foresters/Certified arborists are prescribing removal priorities for the districts. Trees will be dropped and left on private property whenever possible. If there are safety concerns, the trees will be hauled to an offsite location.
“These efforts will save people impacted by the fires at least one cost and remove one more problem to face,” Caswell said.
Only trees that are presenting an immediate danger or that will present a near-future danger to the road or utilities will be taken down.
“We’re only clearing what we need to clear so we can re-open the highway or because the tree will be a danger in the next three to six months,” Caswell said. “It’s more cost effective to get them down now.”
According to ODOT, landowners can contact the ODOT District Office in their area if they have questions or concerns, and patience is appreciated during these times as staff is focused on recovery.