(AP) - Money from a fire prevention fee paid by some California residents will be used to remove dead or dying trees.
The Fresno Bee reports that CAL FIRE spokesman Daniel Berlant says several counties are facing high fire risks from trees dying from drought and bark beetle infestation. He says there were 29 million dead or dying trees in the Sierra last year.
The counties received $1.75 million from the State Responsibility Area fee charged to foothill and mountain residents.
About 37,700 home and business owners pay into the fire prevention fee. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers' Association filed a class-action lawsuit against the state arguing that the fee was actually an illegal tax.
Berlant says the fee is critical to keep the Sierra safe from catastrophic fires.