Dead trees are an extreme fire danger as they allow wildfires to spread more rapidly in these already dry, hot, and drought-stricken conditions.

If you have dead or dying trees on your property, regardless of the cause, the entire tree needs to be removed to reduce wildfire risk. If there are bark beetle-infested trees, they will die; removing them early may prevent further infestation.

Scatter or store wood from bark beetle-infested trees away from healthy trees. Be aware that firewood can harbor insects and diseases that threaten other trees. Transporting firewood can move these pests to new locations. Buy It Where You Burn It.

Controlling Bark Beetles in Wood Residue and Firewood

Is a permit needed to remove dead trees?
In some cases, you may need a permit to remove dead trees. Download a brochure to learn more about permit options and requirements

Is a licensed tree contractor needed?
In some cases, a licensed timber operator or tree contractor is required in order to remove dead trees. In any case, it may be useful to have a professional’s help because they understand how to remove trees safely so they do not fall on buildings or other trees, and licensed contractors carry insurance against damage or injury. To learn if a tree cutter is licensed with the state of California, check here: License look up .

Removing dead trees near power lines
Contact your electric power utility before removing dead or dying trees near power lines. They can provide advice and may provide assistance to help residents safely remove trees near power lines. It’s important to know that only line-clearance-qualified tree workers can work within 10 feet of lines.

PG&E Learn about safety around power lines and trees
Southern California Edison power lines and trees
Trees + Power Lines = Disaster

Should I remove or trim trees if they are still alive?
The best time to remove live trees is during the late fall through winter months. This is due to bark beetles being dormant, or at least slowed, by the colder weather. As the weather warms, the beetles become more active—typically, they are most active in spring and summer. Beetles are attracted to fresh cut wood. So if you combine beetles at their most active time of year, and the scent of fresh-cut tree, it’s a scenario just right for increasing the bark beetle population.

If you must cut live trees in early spring to maintain your defensible space, be extra cautious not to nick nearby trees. After thinning and pruning, make sure to properly and promptly remove and/or treat wood cuttings.

Learn more about protecting the health of your trees and prevent bark beetle infestation. Managing Bark Beetles in Urban and Rural Trees