Many of the Eucalyptus trees located in the City's four nature parks have declined and perished during the last 15 years. Vectors such as the Tortoise Beetle and Red Gum Lerp, as well as years of drought conditions, have hastened this process. Staff has sought grant funding to remove trees, particularly those at risk for falling near homes, and replace them with indigenous species. Consequently, staff applied for the Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program (EEMP) grant funding from the California Transportation Commission (CTC) to remove and replace trees in Strickling Nature Park. The City was awarded this grant on April 22, 2020.
The City Council adopted Resolution No. 2019-080 on November 26, 2019, approving the application for this grant. On April 22, 2020, the City was awarded $275,956 by the CTC for the proposed project. On September 9, 2020, the City received an executed copy of the grant agreement. The grant funding, in addition to $15,000 in City matching funds, will pay for the removal of 150 dead and declining Eucalyptus trees at Strickling Nature Park as identified by the staff arborist as being the most at risk. Following these removals, 200 indigenous species of trees will be planted. In addition to the tree planting and removal, this project will also include the removal of invasive plant species, downed trees, and dead biomass.
The City was previously awarded EEMP grant funding by the CTC for the same type of removal and tree planting project at Hollow Run Nature Park. This project was scheduled for completion by June 30, 2020; however, due to COVID-19 challenges, it has been extended to June 30, 2021. As with the Hollow Run Nature Park project, staff will schedule the Strickling Nature Park removals during the upcoming cooler months when birds are not nesting. WCA will remove the trees in accordance with their current contract pricing for a cost of $166,800. Staff is also requesting that WCA remove invasive palm trees in Hollow Run Nature Park totaling $21,390, funded by the previous EEMP grant. These two, one-time items total $188,190 and are included in Amendment No. 1 to the WCA Agreement A2019-203.
In addition to increasing the contract authority for the grant funded nature park projects, staff is requesting the WCA annual not-to-exceed authority amount increase by $77,797 annually through 2024. Initially, staff requested the WCA agreement at an annual not-to-exceed amount of $652,700 and attempted to provide similar services in spite of significant price increases over the prior agreement. These increases were primarily due to higher insurance limits and prevailing wage hikes. Realizing that they could not meet the needs of the City, staff developed the Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget with additional funds for tree maintenance. Staff delayed the amendment due to the uncertainty of demand and work schedules due to COVID-19. Staff is requesting the agreement authority be increased by $77,797 for the remaining four years of the agreement. With Amendment No. 1, the annual not-to-exceed amount of the agreement will increase from $652,700 to $730,497 bringing the total agreement for FY 2020-21 to $918,687.
Staff is also requesting approval of an agreement in the amount of $65,000 with the CCC to remove plant material at Strickling Nature Park as part of the EEMP grant. The CCC is a state agency enrolling young men and women, ages 18 to 25, aimed to improve California's natural resources. Using the CCC for this work is a cost-effective way to remove the invasive material while also providing the young CCC participants with valuable skills and experience. With the CCC being a public agency, the City may enter into an agreement without the need for competitive bidding pursuant to CHMC Section 3.18.050.G. The CCC has provided similar work at Hollow Run Park with excellent results.