SonomaCountyRecovers: Official recovery information for Sonoma County fires

Damaged Tree Removal

Removing Burnt Trees in the City of Santa Rosa

Discretionary tree removal permits are not required within the wildfire impacted areas of the City of Santa Rosa (Resilient City overlay district). However, you will need to photograph the tree’s condition prior to its removal. The photographs must then be presented at the time of building permit or entitlement application submittal. Planning and Economic Development staff members will evaluate the submitted photographic information, as well as the pre-fire tree conditions through a review of the historical permit record and/or an examination of historical aerial photographs, and work with property owners to encourage, or require in the case of discretionary permits such as Hillside Development Permits or Design Review applications, an appropriate and proportionate tree replanting program commensurate with the pre-fire tree conditions for each parcel. For information on using insurance debris removal funds for private debris removal work, including burnt trees, please review the Debris Removal Insurance Reimbursement Information.

If you are attempting to retain any trees that clearly exhibit fire damage, it is recommended that an arborist report be obtained to determine the long-term health of the tree.

City of Santa Rosa holding chipping events for homeowners impacted by fires

The City is holding free chipping events for residential property owners in the fire-impacted areas. City residents with fire-damaged green waste on their property are encouraged to bring that waste to be chipped at the following designated times and locations.

  • February 24 & March 10,  9:00 am – 2:00 pm,   Nagasawa Park, 1313 Fountaingrove Parkway 
  • February 25 & March 11, 9:00 am – 2:00 pm, Coffey Park, 1524 Amanda Place

Eligible green waste materials include burned and partially burned brush and felled trees up to 12” in diameter on residential property and adjacent sidewalk areas. The materials cannot be contaminated with fire debris, and residents are responsible for transporting their green waste to the chipping sites. The green waste will be chipped at no cost to residents, and the resulting wood chips will be used by the City of Santa Rosa Recreation & Parks Department for various projects throughout the City.

Removing Burnt Trees In Unincorporated Areas of Sonoma County

Property owners do not need a permit from Sonoma County to remove a damaged tree if they live in unincorporated County jurisdiction.
Determine if you live in the city limits or in an unincorporated area.

CAL FIRE timber permits (outside Santa Rosa City limits)

In California, anyone who conducts timber operations on what is deemed timberland must be a licensed as a timber operator (LTO) by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). The basic guidelines:

  • If you have land that can be defined as Timberland,
  • And if you cut down trees on it to sell, trade, barter or exchange,
  • Or you cut the trees and use the land where the trees were growing for another use (vineyard, house, driveway, etc),
  • Then you have conducted “Timber Operations” and need to comply with the California State Forest Practice Rules.

First step for property owners who want to remove trees and sell them as lumber is to determine if they are actually considered to be Timberland. If you are in the city of Santa Rosa, the answer is no — you are not in Timberland. No permit is needed from CAL FIRE if inside Santa Rosa city limits.

If you are planning on a project in Sonoma, Lake, and Napa Counties that might involve Timber Operations, contact the CAL FIRE Resource Management Office in Santa Rosa at (707) 576-2344 for clarification and a list of licensed Foresters and Timber Operators.

You may also visit the State Forest Practice webpage for more information and permit forms.

PG&E Hazardous Tree Removal Efforts

PG&E is finished felling thousands of dead and dying trees in the burn areas that could contact power lines. The utility’s free wood hauling program for qualifying logs that PG&E felled is still active. Go to PG&E’s website for more information.

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