Keeping oaks standing during vegetative treatment

California Oaks prepared this informational sheet in response to individuals concerned about oak tree removals for fire safety. Click here to download PDF.

Gather information about any tree protections and/or plans for tree removals in your area: If you are in an unincorporated area of a county, click on the Contacts for Counties with Oak Landscapes link at our Resources page for contact information to understand what tree removals have been authorized, the reason the removals were authorized, the timeline, and by whom they were authorized. If you are in an incorporated area, contact your local planning, community development, or public works department for this information.

Some jurisdictions also have a tree advisory board. Consider attending their meetings or asking to be appointed, if you wish to engage on an ongoing basis.

Communicate: Meet with the supervisor of the tree removal project to understand the rationale for the selection of the trees for removal. An oak activist in Castro Valley was successful in saving local oaks after she shared information from the Resources page about the important role of California’s native oaks in providing wildlife habitat, protecting watersheds, sequestering carbon, and sustaining culturally important landscapes.

Other strategies that have benefitted trees include:

  • Engagement of city council members, supervisors, and state legislators.
  • Social media or other type of local efforts to engage neighbors in advocating for and education about benefits provided by trees.
  • Letters to the editor of local news outlets.
  • A group in Ripon put up a big sign: Do not cut our oak, which protected a landmark tree from removal.

For more information:

CAL FIRE (1-916-635-5123): 35 priority fire locations

Pacific Gas & Electric (1-800-743-5000): Yard Safety Guide, Vegetation Management

Southern California Edison (1800-655-4555): Vegetation Management

Click here for a complete list of electric utility companies serving California

Additional Resources:

Living with Fire can be accessed from the “Download Homeowners Guide” at Fire Safe Sonoma

California Fire Science Consortium: Includes links to events and webinars, research and publications, data resources, organizations, and regional contacts

Recent scientific papers on the fire resilience of oaks:

California Oaks and Fire: A Review and Case Study (Holmes, Veblen, Young & Berry)

Resilience of California Black Oak (Hammett, Ritchie, Berrill)