Snow causes severe tree damage in the foothills – Chico Enterprise-Record

A tree limb hangs over a canopy at the Duck Pond in Paradise, California on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023. (Jake Hutchison/Enterprise-Record)

PARADISE — Over the course of the past week, mountain towns such as Paradise and Forest Ranch have turned into snowy wonderlands — or wastelands, depending on the viewer.

While hundreds have traveled up to the foothills to play in the snow, many have likely noticed some pretty severe damage to the trees.

Town of Paradise Public Information Officer Colette Curtis said the downed trees are likely due to a series of weather events.

“We’ve definitely seen quite a few trees coming down because of the storms over the past couple of months,” Curtis said. “I don’t know if it’s snow weight necessarily but definitely wind and saturated ground. The snow weight certainly doesn’t help.”

The protocol followed by the Town of Paradise is to remove downed limbs and trees that have fallen on public rights-of-way such as walkways and roads. If a tree falls on private property then the owner of the property will need to take care of it. Additionally, trees that fall in parks are handled by the Paradise Parks and Recreation District.

This was the case Friday and Saturday when dozens of park trees, like the olive trees of Bille Park, began cracking apart and falling to the ground leaving heartwood exposed. Pine trees dropped large limbs around town and paths around the Paradise Duck Pond were blocked by tree debris.

Laura Leidner, Public Information Officer for the Mendocino National Forest, described a similar phenomenon throughout her jurisdiction. Leidner said snow tends to add to the strain on trees during heavy winter storms, especially during a major drought.

“When we have these snow storms, the snow is heavy on those trees and can cause trees to fall down,” Leidner said. “There’s also less vegetation in those high-severity burn footprints and it’s easier for soil to erode and wash away.”

Much like Butte County, the Mendocino National Forest has seen severe fire damage in the form of the August Complex and Ranch fires.

“With the storms since January, we’ve had slides, rockfalls and downed trees,” Leidner said. “It’s common. It’s a combination of historic wildfire seasons, the drought and these storms. The moisture is great news for relieving the drought but we’ve got a long way to go. We’re in this for the long haul. We just have to take it year by year.”

The storm is expected to continue through Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. Johnny Powell, a meteorologist with the service’s Sacramento office, said the snow level will most likely remain down to roughly 2,000 feet. Some of the areas in higher elevations remain in a blizzard warning until 4 a.m. Wednesday.

Despite the snow and high winds, the storm hasn’t been the wettest for valley areas such as Chico, which Powell said got roughly an inch and a half of rain since the storm began Thursday.

Powell said it’s expected to dry up for a few days starting Wednesday before another storm is forecasted to begin Saturday afternoon.


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