At the Sept. 9 Mountain Area Safety Taskforce meeting, the two major subjects were the process to take wood waste to the local transfer station and trees dead or dying from insect attacks.

Waste Management is now charging residents $60 to take waste “… they deem to be construction,” said Edwina Scott, Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council executive director. Twice this summer, the Woodies were approached to pay the charge after they had abated a property and brought the wood waste to the transfer site.

Her concern was that the fee would eventually be a deterrent for individuals abating their property. “If they won’t take it, it’s going to be dumped somewhere,” she stressed.

After some discussion of the issue and its potential problem, the MAST group formed a committee to work with the county’s Waste Resources Department to clarify the policy. The committee members are Gregg Bratcher, Cal Fire unit forester for Riverside County, Idyllwild Fire Chief Patrick Reitz and Scott.

Later, Bratcher said the number of confirmed trees with a Goldspotted oak borer infestation has now exceeded 100. The infestations range from light to major, including breeding sites. “A lot of the trees have low infestation — for example, only two to three exit holes,” he said.

While the county fire department’s grant funds for tree removals are depleted, Bratcher noted that there are other ways to control the problem such as spraying. For help, residents may contact John Huddleston at 951-288-5473 or [email protected].

In an email, Huddleston said he can either “… spray bifenthrin, which is reasonably effective, twice a year, up to 50 feet or inject trees with emamectin benzoate, which is extremely effective for two years, but much more expensive.”

Later, Chris Dowling, acting San Jacinto District ranger, announced that the GSOB has now been detected on Forest Service land here. Most of the trees have been on the periphery of Forest Service land adjacent to private land.

“We’re trying to get an environmental analysis done, which will enable us to remove the brood trees,” he said. More surveys are planned for later this fall.

Southern California Edison has been busy this summer removing pine trees dying from bark beetle infestation. More than a dozen trees have been removed in the Tollgate and Idyllbrook areas during the past month.

Tom Coleman, Forest Service entomologist, was hopeful that the anticipated El Niño event with its rainfall will help the pines naturally recover and fend off the beetle attacks.

“If we get a dramatic increase in rainfall, hopefully everything will fall off the radar,” he said.

Scott also told the group that most of the 2014 grant funds for the MCFSC have been expended, but a grant award letter for 2015 has been received already.

The roofing grant for replacing wood shingles is almost exhausted. MCFSC has completed 86 roofs and eight more are being worked on, according to Scott.

Also, a grant for revising the Community Wildfire Protection Plan has been received and work will begin on the project soon, she announced.