Our forests are an important feature of Bear Valley. We need to both keep them healthy, and keep our community protected as much as possible from devastating fires. The following includes:
Bear Valley looks very different today from how it looked 50 or 100 years ago. There are many more trees than there used to be. There are two main reasons for this. First, we took fire out of the ecosystem. Fire occurred naturally in the forest, and the Washo and ranchers also set intentional fires. Tree and underbrush density was much lower, and those fires didn’t “crown out” and destroy vast swathes of the forest. They helped preserve meadows, views, and wetlands.
Second, recent human activity has changed the balance of tree types. Lodgepole pines are opportunistic, and foresters don’t like them. Lodgepoles grow faster than firs, Jeffrey pines, or aspens, and tend to crowd them out if given a chance. Lodgepoles jump into areas of disturbed earth, so the building of roads and homes gives them an edge on other trees. Lodgepoles also suck up more water than other trees. They have greatly accelerated the natural successional evolution in the Sierra where lakes turn into wetlands, then into meadows, then into forest.
What we have now is a forest with far too many trees. Healthy forest in our area should have about 90 trees per acre. So a typical third of an acre lot in Bear Valley should have 30 trees, or even fewer when the area of a home is considered. Trees should be well spaced, with 8 feet or more between tree trunks. The bigger the trees, the farther apart they should be.
The BVRI Board wants to encourage our property owners to reduce tree density to healthier levels. You may remove live trees less than 12 inches in diameter at breast height (DBH) without special approval. For larger trees, you must get approval from the Architectural Review Committee, which will look at density, spacing, and privacy screening, while generally favoring thinning.
Healthy well spaced trees are more likely to survive drought, beetle attacks, or fire. And they’re less likely to fall on your house. Please consider thinning your trees.
Our goal is to create a fire safe environment at Bear Valley. Bear Valley is doing well in terms of forest management, BUT we all have to keep at this annually; trees and bushes grow, or die. Forestry and fire prevention people agree that Bear Valley has the best forest management program of any subdivision on Ebbetts Pass, in the spirit of Harry Schimke, one of the founders of Bear Valley and a renowned forester. In the windstorms of 2011-12, Bear Valley had the least structure damage from windfalls of any area from here to Angels Camp, thanks to our having healthier trees. BVRI continues to operate a volunteer inspection program to monitor fire clearance and CC&R compliance.
Lot inspections typically occur in later June or July. Check out the form that the volunteer lot inspectors use to check your lots . The names of owners whose lots do not pass muster will be given to the Sheriff who will send a letter of warning to the lot owner. See the following about the chipping program BV Chipping Packet in order to get your clippings chipped.
For more information and information about where to get help for clearing your lot, see the following document prepared by the BVRI Forest Management Committee: BVFireInspection 5-30-15
There are several resources to help you with your lot clearance. For the toughest chainsaw work, Sean Hammes, 209-588-9350. For routine chainsaw work and clearing, Mike Ratkowski, 209-795-4366; Erich Haas, 209-639-1169; Joe Zibley, 209-890-7883; Sean’s Tree Service @ 209-588-9350; Snider’s Tree Service 209-795-2847. For light chainsaw work, yard clearing, Karen Evans, 209-566-5843.
We encourage you all to read Bear Valley Insects 2014 to learn about bark beetles in Bear Valley and what to look for and what to do. This current drought period should cause all of us to increase our vigilance and act quickly to remove dead trees. If you have a dead tree(s) or logs on your lot, be sure to have them removed as soon as possible. The health and beauty of our local forest ecosystem could easily be devastated by either a fire or a full-scale bark beetle infestation. BVRI inspects each lot annually, but residents need to act on their own to remove trees without waiting to be reminded.
At the end of the document there is contact information for the author, Ross Richards-Professional Forrester.
Getting Rid of Bark Beetles: PLEASE TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION TO REMOVE DEAD TREES AND LOGS ON YOUR PROPERTY. Any tree with bark beetle must be cut into rounds and stacked in the sun. Then the stack must be covered with clear plastic. The bottom of the plastic must be covered with dirt so nothing gets out. This will encapsulate the beetles and kill them. If you get the logs hauled away, the ground still needs to be treated.
Bear Valley received a grant to help with our forest fuel reduction. The map here shows the priorities for fuel reduction for the various Bear Valley Common Areas.
Date: TBD (late summer)
Sites to check to see what’s happening in Bear Valley.
Mountain and Village Dining Schedule Go to Plan Your Visit, Dining in the Village
Keep your eye out for postings on Bear Valley Nextdoor.
Bear Valley Trails for information on ways to get involved in maintaining and building new local Bear Valley trails.