Forest Health Benefits

Within the past forty years, land managers, scientists, and conservationists have greatly altered their views on forest health management. Until fairly recently, local management objectives on much of our local forestland included suppressing wildfires and protecting trees from being cut.

As a result, many of these forest stands became over stocked. A healthy forest in the San Bernardino Mountains should typically have between 90 and 150 trees per acre, but much of the forest has 600 to 800 trees per acre. With all of this excess fuel present, the fires are difficult to control, often burning so hot that the larger trees are killed, soil is scorched, and wildlife habitats are destroyed.

When trees exist in close proximity, they compete for the same limited amount of water, nutrition, and sunlight. During the cyclical drought conditions found in the Big Bear Valley, trees go into a stressed condition. When trees are stressed, their ability to survive a Bark Beatle attack is reduced.

A great resource for property owners comes from the University of Arizona titled, “Guidelines for Thinning Ponderosa Pine for Improved Forest Health and Fire Prevention (PDF 9.93Mb)." This is an extensive hands-on publication to help property owners determine proper tree spacing, age, class, and diversity of size for creating a healthy forest on their own property. In using this guide, Big Bear Valley property owners may use the recommended elevation of 6,500 feet and 24 inches as the average precipitation.

The Big Bear Fire Department offers over-the-phone guidance and/or property site visits to assist property owners in completing an evaluation of their property. The Big Bear Fire Department can be reached at 909/866-4668.

NOTE: Currently within the City of Big Bear Lake, small trees less than 6 inches in diameter within 8 feet of another larger tree are the size of trees required by local ordinance to be removed. Trees larger then 6 inches require a permit unless required to be removed by the Big Bear Fire Department, CalFire, or a qualified tree expert.