Tree removal service for low-income seniors expanded in El Dorado County | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tree removal service for low-income seniors expanded in El Dorado County

Mackenzie Myers
Mountain Democrat

A close-up of dead needles in Sierra National Forest.

A program to help low-income seniors remove trees from their properties has expanded to include two more areas of El Dorado County and a new income threshold.

The Hazardous Tree Removal Program, run by the county and Cal Fire, was originally launched in July 2017. It provides financial assistance and services to property owners ages 60 and older who meet income criteria, helping them remove dead or dying trees from their property when they pose a danger to health and safety.

The income threshold has been raised to include more seniors. When the program launched last year, a two-person household had to make 60 percent or lower of the county's area median income, or about $36,500. Now, seniors whose incomes are at or below 80 percent of the area median income, or about $51,300, are eligible for the program.

Eligibility also requires an applicant to own the property they reside on as their primary residence, the news release said. Trees to be removed must be greater than 10 inches in diameter and at least 20 feet tall. They must also be within 300 feet of the applicant's residence, pose a threat to that residence and be accessible by machinery.

The program is funded with a $200,000 grant from Cal Fire. According to county spokeswoman Carla Hass, the funding will expire in March 2019. So far, 20 trees have been removed and the county has received 260 phone calls from interested individuals.

At the program's outset, Creighton Avila with the county's Chief Administrative Office estimated 42 trees would be removed, according to the county's July 21, 2017 news release announcing the program.

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Applicants must complete a packet from the county, including paperwork that verifies income and employment status. Applications are accepted on a first come, first served basis.

Those with questions about the program can contact the Housing Community and Economic Development Program at 530-621-5159.