Grinding Station clarifies tree-size policy

It is still winter — the middle of February. Few minds have begun to think or worry about the Gold spotted oakborer.

But Riverside County Fire Division Chief Gregg Bratcher, the Hill forester, knows the GSOB is still present on the Hill and a danger.

If you have an oak tree or see one with its dead leaves still on the limbs, Bratcher advises that is a sign of GSOB infestation. Other indicators, which are more apparent as spring arrives, are whether a black oak produces new leaves or even if there are fewer leaves than normal. Another is whether the leaves that do appear are smaller than usual.

The Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council has a hotline to call for requesting an inspection: 951-659-8328.

“I encourage people to be vigilant,” Bratcher said. “Given the number of trees taken down [more than 70], no one needs to be complacent.”

Unfortunately, neither RCFD nor the MCFSC currently have any funds to help a property owner with tree removal. Both will be applying for grants in the spring, but Bratcher emphasized that no grant is available now. He also encouraged land owners to contact local arborists, who may be able to help.

The GSOB ravaged black oaks in San Diego County and was first identified on the Hill in 2012. Now it is expanding its Southern California turf. In the past year,

it has migrated to Orange County, according to Bratcher.

Grinding Station

At the January Mountain Area Safety Taskforce meeting, fire officials and tree contractors discussed an apparent policy change at the local Grinding Station regarding the size of trees or wood accepted.

Since then, Lisa Thompson, program administrator in the county’s Department of Waste Resources, has affirmed there is no change in policy.

“A mix-up occurred,” she said, “There is no limit on tree sizes. The staff knows not to turn anyone away.”