By Michael P. Neufeld
San Bernardino, CA – The county is poised to terminate the Bark Beetle emergency proclamation.
The end of the emergency — originally proclaimed a local emergency by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on September 24, 2002 — is agenda item number 36 on Tuesday’s agenda and will be presented by Fire Marshal Peter Brierty. The support materials indicate the Bark Beetle infestation and severe drought conditions described in the original proclamation “no longer exists as a local emergency.”
The materials also indicates there is no financial impact associated with the recommendation to terminate the emergency proclamation.
Brierty’s information packet reports:
“Currently, the health of the forest has improved and the effects of the bark beetle infestation no longer pose a significant and substantial threat to the physical safety of our citizens, their homes and the environment in the mountain communities within the county.”
On September 23, 2002, supervisors approved the resolution proclaiming a local emergency on public and private lands located in the San Bernardino and Angeles National Forests. That action came after the board reviewed and continued the local emergency as required under California law, and did so as a result of the continued existence of the local emergency.
Supervisors last took action on the Bark Beetle emergency on January 8, 2013, as required by California Government Code 8630(c).
On March 7, 2003, Governor Gray Davis proclaimed a State of Emergency to address the extreme peril to people, property and the environment within the Counties of Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego because of the fire danger caused by the extraordinary number of dead, dying and diseased trees resulting from prolonged drought conditions and the infestation by bark beetles and other decay organisms.
The Emergency Proclamation also allowed for faster and less exhaustive environmental review by county staff. This also allowed for lower costs per project, resulting in more funding for actual fuels reduction. Other financial benefits were obtained by Mountain Area Safety Task Force (MAST) partners such as Southern California Edison. The Emergency Proclamation allowed the Public Utilities Commission to continue to approve their funding mechanism so that they could continue to remove trees that were threatening the power lines that connect to our citizens’ homes.