Welcome to the Madera County Tree Mortality Project Webpage
Our company, Blue Ridge Services, was selected by Madera County to oversee and manage their tree mortality mitigation project, and each week, we will be posting project updates in this column.
We are currently working with stakeholders to develop and finalize our mitigation plan. In addition to being a resource for education and information for the general public, our team has been tasked with developing a prioritized plan to mitigate the risks of tree mortality to public safety and infrastructure, obtaining grants and pursuing California Disaster Assistance Act (CDAA) reimbursements, meeting all environmental requirements, securing property owner permissions where mitigation is necessary, coordinating efforts with partner agencies, and executing the developed plan in accordance with all appropriate regulations.
To keep up-to-date with the project, check out our Facebook page. We are also available to answer questions you might have about this project and the tree mortality crisis. You can call 209.966.7777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to partnering with the community of Madera County to tackle this very important project.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tree Removal
Tree Removal FAQ’s
Blue Ridge Services was contracted by Madera County, to serve on the County’s Operations Management Team for Tree Mortality. Our company has been hired to oversee and manage the County’s tree mortality mitigation project, with the objective to fall dead and dying trees resulting from drought and subsequent bark beetle attack, which are affecting County infrastructure and are a threat to public safety.
Q: Who can I contact if I have dead trees near my home?
A. If the tree is near a PG&E power line, please call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000. If the tree is near a County maintained road or building, please call Blue Ridge Services at 209-966-7777.
· PG&E cut down trees on my property but did not remove them. Who can I contact for clean up? Please call the PG&E help desk at 1-800-743-5000.
Q: What is the Right of Entry Permit and do I really need to sign it?
A: A signed Right of Entry Permit gives Blue Ridge Services and their subcontractors, permission to work on your property. We must receive a signed Right of Entry Permit from you before our foresters and tree crews can begin work on your property to mark and fall trees.
If you choose not to sign and return the Right of Entry Permit, we will not cut trees on your property. You may be responsible for any damage the trees may cause if they fall on a road or structure.
You may also have received Right of Entry Permits from PG&E (and their subcontractors), or Caltrans, but you must also sign our form in order for Blue Ridge Services crews to work on your property.
Q. Is there a charge to have my trees marked and felled?
A. No, the County of Madera through Blue Ridge Services, will mark and fall trees that are impacting County infrastructure. This service is being offered to you, free of charge.
Q: Will Blue Ridge Services be removing trees that they fall?
A: We expect that the majority of trees will be felled and left on the ground. The ultimate decision will depend on accessibility and funding. Felled trees will be lopped and scattered, meaning limbs will be cut down to within 18 inches of the ground where possible, and tree tops will be cut into manageable lengths.
Q: When do you anticipate the project will start?
A: It is difficult to give an exact date because we must receive a majority of the Right of Entry Permit forms before developing a project to put out to bid. Blue Ridge Services will be posting current tree removal projects on our tree mortality web page. www.blueridgeservices.com/maderatreemortality.
Q: What if I don’t live at my home full-time but want to be there when the work is being done. Can you let me know when the work will take place?
A: You can be alerted when tree marking and removal projects begin by checking the Blue Ridge Services Tree Mortality web page, www.blueridgeservices.com/maderatreemortality, but unfortunately because there is no way of telling how fast crews will advance from property to property, it is not possible to alert property owners regarding the exact time when work will begin on specific property(ies).
Neal Bolton, P.E. | President
Neal Bolton is a Civil Engineer (California C48062) and a Licensed Contractor (California 482821). He attended Sacramento State University and Montana State University, majoring in construction engineering. Mr. Bolton has more than 38 years of experience in heavy construction and landfill and recycling operations. In 1988, Mr. Bolton formed his own consulting company – Blue Ridge Services. As principal of Blue Ridge, he has continued to provide operational consulting services for a wide range of private and municipal solid waste/recycling facilities, landfills, transfer stations, surface mine reclamation and construction projects. He has also worked on numerous mine development/reclamation projects. Mr. Bolton has worked on landfill siting, expansion and closure projects and has broad experience on projects where protection of sensitive habitat/environment was a key issue. He has performed consulting, speaking and training projects in virtually every state in the U.S., in Canada, and abroad. Mr. Bolton has authored numerous books and articles/papers, produced 130 training/safety videos, and pioneered the use of various industrial productivity improvement tools, such as Six Sigma and Lean to the area of heavy (construction) equipment operation in the waste/recycling industry. Based on his broad level of experience, knowledge and reputation, Mr. Bolton is often retained as an expert witness on cases involving solid waste operations. He has consulted on more than 30 expert witness cases in the United States. Email Neal
1988 – Present – Principal – Blue Ridge Services (Atascadero, CA … formerly Bozeman, MT) 1987 – 1988 – Field Engineer – Waste Management, Inc. (San Jose, CA) 1983 – 1987 – Field Engineer – Oakland Scavenger Company (Oakland, CA) 1978-1983 – Laborer, Operator, Foreman – Bolton Construction and various other construction/development companies (Woodland, CA)
Author: The Handbook of Landfill Operations – used as textbook for SWANA’s 1-day certification course entitled, “Operational Issues for Landfill Managers.” Also used for many years as the textbook for certification in the State of Virginia. Author: The Handbook of Landfill Safety Produced: 130 safety videos for the waste industry. Many translated to Spanish and Greek. Translations to Portuguese and Arabic in process. Author: 200+ landfill articles and technical papers, presented on three continents. Instructor: 200+ training classes (including ~50 for SWANA) across the U.S. Prepared training materials and training for the State of California, the State of Indiana, and State of Kansas. Produced: More than 1,300 PowerPoint® presentations Produced: Approximately 20,000 landfill photos Produced: 25+ webinars for landfills, transfer stations, green waste processing facilities, and recycling facilities
Kasem Cornelius | Operations Consultant I
Prior to joining the Blue Ridge Services team, Kasem spent several years working in the solid waste recycling industry. During this time, he developed safety plans, conducted safety training, led tailgate meetings, and performed job hazard analysis. He was also the on-site safety manager for waste handling crews on large utility power projects. Kasem has completed the OSHA 500 Outreach Training Program through the UC San Diego Extension Program. As an Authorized Construction Trainer, Kasem is authorized by OSHA to perform 10 and 30 hour construction hazard awareness courses.
Since joining Blue Ridge Services, Inc. (BRS), as a solid waste operations consultant, he has performed on-site operations evaluations, safety audits, and provided administrative consulting at sites in California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Washington, and Wisconsin. Kasem works with municipal and private waste facilities to find practical, comprehensive safety solutions for clients.
Kasem has conducted comprehensive safety audits and developed training programs for landfills, transfer stations, and waste collection services. These projects included on-site observation and interaction with facility staff and management to identify needed improvements in general safety, OSHA requirements, maintenance, shop safety, facility traffic flow, collection routes, waste crowding, etc. Many of the training programs he developed included not only initial training, but documented on-going and refresher training for all facility workers including spotters, equipment operators, and maintenance staff.
He has conducted a survey of the entire solid waste industry, reaching out to hundreds of industry contacts and waste association members to research waste facility employee classifications and compensation. This information was then used to aid a client in developing employee classifications and a competitive compensation schedule that met industry standards.
Kasem has been active on the topic of succession planning as well. One of his noteworthy projects includes working with a facility to smooth the transition when a manager with decades of experience was leaving the facility. Kasem spent over a month on-site and delivered a comprehensive Supervisor Operations Manual documenting all procedures and aspects of the manager’s responsibilities. He has also delivered presentations via webinar and for the SWANA Western Regional Symposium regarding succession planning and creating operations procedure documents.
Kasem has also been a part of creating BRS’s new “SHERPA” Critical Waste Facility Plans Service. This service is focused on developing updated and comprehensive Safety, Health, Equipment, Response, Productivity, and Administrative plans tailored to the solid waste industry. BRS’s research on the topic revealed that 90% of waste facilities do not have necessary plans and documentation currently in place. Through SHERPA, Kasem has been involved in developing Standard Operating Procedures, succession planning, and other safety and training documents tailored for solid waste facilities.
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo – B.S. in Business Adminsitration
Registrations and Certificates:
- Attended, UC San Diego extension program OSHA 500 outreach training program
- OSHA Authorized Construction Trainer Certificate #UO7074782
- 40-Hour, hands on, Hazwoper training through Safety Unlimited, Inc.
- Member, Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA)
Jacob Runyon| Drone Operator
Jacob Runyon is currently the Drone Operator for Blue Ridge Services. He is tasked with all UAV operations and helps provide topographical maps and data using UAVs. Jacob got his B.S. in Unmanned Aircraft System Engineering from Kansas State University. He has knowledge of UAVs in the fields of design, assembly, operations, and data collection & processing. Jacob is also proficient in reworking electrical systems regarding UAVs. He has knowledge of autopilot systems such as Pixhawk and N3. He also has experience using Mission Planner, APM Planner, and DJI software. Coming from a school with their own FAA Part 333 Exemption, Jacob also has experience regarding FAA Regulations and SOP’s, which he uses to help BRS with acquiring special waivers for UAV operations.
Mr. Runyon also has experience using CAD software such as AutoCad, Solidworks, and Civil 3D. He also has experience processing images through PIX4D and ArcGIS. He plans on using his education and experience to help push BRS into the drone industry and show the positive solutions UAVs can provide with regards to the Solid Waste Industry.
Kansas State Polytechnic University, Salina, KS. B.S. in UAS Engineering
Registrations and Certificates:
- FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certification – Certification # 4130682
Logan Malavey | Geographic Information Systems Technician
Degree in Geospatial Technology from Stanislaus State University in Turlock
Logan Malavey is the Geographic Information Systems Technician for Blue Ridge Services’ Tree Mortality Project. He spends his days creating maps that detail the tree felling work that has been planned or completed and maintaining online databases and interactive digital maps to be used by the Tree Markers and Safety Officers in the field.
While studying geography and earning a degree in Geospatial Technology from Stanislaus State University in Turlock, Logan gained experience as a GIS intern, both for the county of Merced and for a small company located in Sonora, California. At every opportunity to choose the focus of his work or studies, Logan was quick to research and analyze various aspects of tree mortality in California. As a resident of Sonora and a firsthand witness of the dangers that dead trees can present, studying the phenomenon became somewhat of a passion project for him. Logan could not be happier now, working with Blue Ridge Services and utilizing his GIS skills to help make the community a safer place.
Jeff Evans, E.I.T.
Jeff Evans | Engineering Consultant
Mr. Evans has 12 years of experience in the civil engineering and construction management industry, including the land development, survey, site construction and building construction fields. Mr. Evans construction management responsibilities have varied with projects ranging from $250,000 to 15 million. Relevant experience includes:
National Environmental Science Campus. Yosemite National Park, CA
Project Manager for the construction of a 6-building school campus and new site utilities; construction costs totaling $15 Million. Duties included pre-construction constructability review, maintaining a construction schedule with Microsoft Project, review and maintain the project budget, manage 50 subcontractors, coordinate with National Park Service (Owner).
Yosemite Indian Museum – Fire Suppression System Installation
Project Manager for the construction of a high-pressure mist fire suppression system and early detection fire detection system in the historic Yosemite Indian Museum. Duties included maintaining the project budget, maintaining the project schedule, coordinating with 3 subcontractors and coordinating with the National Park Service (Owner)
Project Manager for Yosemite Concessionaire
Project manager for multiple ongoing construction projects in Yosemite national park on concessionaire managed property with 6-10 projects at a time. Projects ranged from $25,000 to $2 Million scopes included building re-pairs, ADA and public safety code upgrades, site utility repairs, road repairs and landscaping repairs.
Survey Department Manager
Coordinate and manage work for 3 full-time survey crews including topographic surveys and construction surveying work.
Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA – B.S. in Environmental Engineering
Certified Engineer-In-Training – Certificate No. EIT 140231
Claudia Dysard | Financial Manager
Focus in Accounting Principles, Financial Accounting and Business Management
Prior to joining the Blue Ridge Services team, Claudia spent many years working in various capacities, with a focus in Accounting and Office Administration. Claudia has 30 years of experience, working for both non-profit and for-profit businesses. Claudia has helped in the process of opening new businesses and maintaining corporate documents.
Since joining Blue Ridge Services, Inc. (BRS), as the Financial Manager, Claudia has continued her work in finance and human resources. She is responsible for all aspects of the BRS finances, while lending support to the staff for project needs, such as budgeting and job costing.
Patricia Gilger | Tree Mortality Project Support-Administrative Assistant | Right of Entry Project Coordinator
Helen transferred back to Calif. in 2001 to raise her two sons, continued in the cable industry for 3 more years, after corporate changes for Call Centers in 2003 she transitioned in to the Real Estate Mortgage Markets along with property management and administrative support. Helen found a passion for Real Estate. Helen has also lived Oklahoma for a period of time in 2008 where she continued in Real Estate Services & Property Management. After several years of being away from home she was called to come back to California and make Mariposa her home in 2015 to assist with care of an elderly parent and to be closer to family which has resided in Mariposa for many years. Over the years Helen would visit family in Mariposa and bring her two sons as they were growing up so they may experience Yosemite National Park and go to the Local Mariposa pool and day camp for their summers. Helen fell in love with Mariposa back then and it was always been her goal to come up here to live and when she did arrive she continued in the customer service field by extending it to the hospitality network by working as an upfront contact with the local tourism venue all while continuing her passion in Real Estate & Property Management by providing administrative support, bookkeeping & financial services. In her pursuits, one of her objectives was to obtain her license in Real Estate State and passed the CA RE Exam in 2017 to add to her list of accomplishments. Helen also completed another one of her goals by obtaining certification and training for a background in specific areas of advocacy for social services in four specific areas, domestic violence, family in crisis support, sexual abuse and human trafficking to continue her service to the community. With this background Helen has brought her customer service, administrative, and community support knowledge to Blue Ridge Services and as a team member to our tree mortality projects with her commitment to the community and Blue Ridge Services she will provide these services and future services and or projects available that our company will bring.
Patricia Gilger | Tree Mortality Project Development Manager
Project Responsibilities: Grant writing
With more than 20 years of experience, Patricia Gilger has been active in the grant process, from the initiation of ideas, through to submission and completion of projects. She has served as a grant writer, administrator, evaluator for community based organizations, corporations and academics. Patricia’s skills include business planning, marketing, and the establishment of nonprofits, research; she is also versed in academic research proposals, and international and national policies.
Patricia earned her Bachelor of Science/Genetics degree at the University of Kansas. She is the founder of Mariposa Youth Impact Project (MyIP) and Assistant Director for Community Engagement for the UC Merced Alliance for Family and Child Health and Development, a center dedicated to the healthy development of children and their families in and around the San Joaquin Valley and nearby rural mountain regions.
Troy Kechely | Engineering Consultant III/CAD & GIS Manager
Troy has over 25 years of experience using and instructing on the use of Computer Aided Design (CAD) software with extensive expertise in Autodesk civil design software including: Civil 3D, Map 3D, 3DSMax, Navisworks, Infraworks, AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT. He is also skilled in a variety of GIS related software, including ArcGIS.
His experience includes the integration of CAD and GIS related data to produce figures and design components for multiple projects as well as animation and video creation using CAD created entities and various video editing software. He has over 23 years of experience in site investigations, feasibility studies, design, construction oversight and implementation for civil and environmental landfills, mine reclamation and site development projects throughout the United States. Troy has conducted design oversight of multi-million dollar engineering and environmental design and construction projects ranging from $25,000 to $40,000,000.
Primary expertise is intricate plan creations for complex civil site design projects with emphasis on large earthworks, landfills, and large industrial/retail developments. His landfill experience includes dozens of fill sequence and soil management plans for landfills all over North America along with transfer station studies, site expansion design, and construction oversight.
Samuel Bolton | Tree Mortality Project Assistant Director
Project Responsibilities: Field Support, Jobsite Inspection, Drone Mapping, main point of contact, logistics, County staff communications management, drone mapping and public outreach.
Education: Attended Merced College for landscape architecture
Experience: Mr. Bolton started working for Blue Ridge Services as the project manager/foreman for Terra-Track. He has several years of experience in the field, dealing with tree and brush mitigation, managing crews and working closely with the Mariposa Fire Safe Council on various fire mitigation projects. Currently, Samuel is the Assistant Project Director for tree mortality in Mariposa and Madera County. He provides overall project oversite, including overseeing project planning, budget planning, selecting projects in order of priority, interfacing with contractors, communicating with members of the public, and coordinating with county officials.
FAA Certified Drone Operator
The European Centre of Technology: Renewable Energy Management & Finance
International Society of Arboriculture Professional Member
American Forests Member
Business Ethics – Advanced: Handling Employee Concerns.
Business Ethics – Advanced: Ethical Leadership
FEMA National Fire Academy: Q2100 Wildland Urban Interface Preparedness/ Mitigation
FEMA National Fire Academy: Q0328 ICS Simulation Series
FEMA National Fire Academy: Q0426 Introduction to Fire and EMS Supervision and Management
National Wildfire Coordinating Group: NWCG S-190, Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior
International Society of Arboriculture: Tree Worker Safety – Climbing
International Society of Arboriculture: Tree Worker Safety – Rigging
International Society of Arboriculture: Tree Worker Safety – Safety
International Society of Arboriculture: Abiotic Disorders
International Society of Arboriculture: Tree Identification Principles
360 Training: Skid Steer (Rubber-Tired & Track Loader) – Operator Safety Course
360 Training: Front End Loader – Operator Safety Course
FAA: Part 107 Drone Pilot Certification.
CPR First Aid Certified
2 years Coordination and Management of Tree Mortality Operations
4 years Managing Terra-Track (Working Field Manager, Lead Heavy Equipment Operator)
6 years Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue. Swift Water Rescue Technician. Technical Rescue Instructor. Search Drone Pilot.
Raquel Sandoval | Executive Assistant
Raquel Sandoval is the Executive Assistant for Blue Ridge Services. She graduated from the Institute of Technology’s Business Administration Program and holds 15 years’ experience in the construction industry pertaining to business development and construction defect consulting. Performs document oversight on proposals, contracts, research, reports and provides project management support.
Dan Machado | Arborist/Landscape Architect
Daniel Machado is a Certified Arborist and licensed Landscape Architect. He provides tree consulting services including Arborist Reports, Tree Inventories and consulting for public and private agencies. He has most recently worked in Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera Counties consulting on tree mortality issues. He is also owner of Ps1 Landscape Architecture providing creative landscape design for public, commercial and private clients. He is past President of the Modesto Engineers Club and Executive Director of the Sierra Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. He served in the military as a specialist in Terrain Analysis before founding his own landscape architecture firm.
John Saucedo | Tree Mortality Safety Officer
John has more than 20 years of experience in Forest Management, CAL FIRE, US Forest Service Hot Shot, Field Team and Contractor Oversight, Safety Operations and Audits. John is our company’s most experienced forest and wildfire worker. With two decades of boots-on-the-ground experience, John plays a critical role in our company in terms of ensuring our goals and plans are practical, workable and safe. He will provide that same oversight for this project by developing (with Kasem) SOPs, safety programs and effective inspection programs for all operations centers – as well as all subcontractors associated with the pellet project.
Sam Marchant, E.I.T. | Engineering Consultant I
Mr. Marchant has several years of varied experience in the civil engineering industry, including the transportation, geotechnical and solid waste fields. Since joining the Blue Ridge Services (BRS) team as an engineering consultant, he has conducted several analyses and designs for solid waste facilities within North America. A sample of his current duties at BRS include: data collection and analysis, time motion studies, programming statistical models, topographic volume estimates, facility design, equipment and facility optimization, cost-benefit analyses, hydrologic evaluations of landfill performance and technical document analysis.
As can be seen from his duties, Mr. Marchant has worked on a diverse range of projects in the solid waste industry. He has developed a programmable cost benefit model to determine the economic feasibility of salvaging settlement areas on landfill slopes. He has also conducted a beneficial reuse material analysis to determine if the amount of material the site was receiving would satisfy the demands of the operation; this included an analysis of site topography and tonnage data and trends.
Mr. Marchant has also completed design work in the solid waste industry. He has analyzed and designed a guardrail system for a transfer station to improve facility safety and efficiency. This project required the consideration of numerous factors, including regulations, customer ease of access and design standardization. This project also required the development of standard operating procedures and training for transfer station staff. Throughout his work, Mr. Marchant has provided clients with safe, economical and efficient solutions to complex problems. He has also developed and conducted many presentations of findings for clients.
Using his technical statistical experience, Mr. Marchant has played a key role in expanding and streamlining the data analysis capabilities of BRS. He has developed complex Excel and MATLAB models to analyze numerous solid waste facility benchmarks and performance measures.
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA, B.S. in Civil Engineering
Registrations, Memberships & Certifications:
- Certified Engineer in Training – EIT Certificate #157568
- Member, Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA)
- Member, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
- FAA, Certified Remote Pilot Airman – Certificate #3972638
Jake Lethin | Engineering Consultant II
Mr. Lethin, a United States Marine Corps Veteran holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Southern California. Over the course of his studies, he developed an understanding of AutoCad, fluid dynamics, construction estimating, and mechanical systems. Mr. Lethin performed research in regard to sediment disposition based on angles of outlet flow barriers.
While serving in the Marine Corps, Mr. Lethin managed projects and operations for a Combat Infantry unit. While deployed in Afghanistan he regularly coordinated with the Army, State Department, USAID, and USDA to develop workflow processes and operational controls. He also developed standard operating procedure for logistics and operational requests for a group of approximately 4,800 Marines. His position required him to regularly develop training, safety/risk mitigation plans and was held responsible for the implementation of the plans that he developed.
After his service in the Marine Corps, he was employed with General Electric (GE) where he managed maintenance service projects for clients in the Oil & Gas industry. While managing the installation and maintenance of GE’s proprietary turbo machinery, he had the opportunity to work with notable organizations such as Exxon Mobil and Iowa Fertilizer. Mr. Lethin was responsible for the safe and efficient execution of these projects while overseeing project teams consisting of 24 staff members. Throughout his time with GE, he honed his project management skills while developing a solid understanding of project budgets, process improvement, contract management, and data analytics.
While employed as an Engineering Consultant II with Blue Ridge Services, Inc. Mr. Lethin has applied his skills by performing data and process analysis for several Comprehensive Operational Reviews (CORE™). While continuing to develop his skills, he looks forward to applying his unique knowledge and previous experiences to the solid waste Industry.
University of Southern California – B.S. in Mechanical Engineering
Larry Braun, P.E.
Larry Braun, P.E. | Engineer
Larry holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering and is an R.C.E. in the State of California with 25 years of Design and Plan Development experience. His professional expertise extends to: Land Development, Environmental Engineering, Water, Waste Water and Storm Water Drainage layout and design.
Mr. Braun has designed roads and their accompanying infrastructure for everything from County A-1 standard roads to Collectors, Arterials, Expressways, State Freeways and Intersections. With Blue Ridge Services he will provide site layout and design, permitting support, plans and specifications for a variety of projects. He interfaces with clients, subcontractors and other stakeholders on various projects.
Trevor Merrill | Video Production Specialist
Armed with a BA in film production and analysis, Trevor Merrill isa writer, director, editor, jack-of-all-trades video specialist working out of California. His short film work was recognized with numerous awards and even a front cover feature in independent film magazine, “Dead Cinema.” He has crafted hundreds of videos over the years in a wide range of genres and styles, from music videos to corporate marketing, and has covered historic live events, interviews with celebrities and politicians, and heartfelt scripted and unscripted stories. Trevor regularly works in allaspects of production at Blue Ridge Services as a one-man army.”