Cutting Trees Down in Parkway

This article in the Sacramento Bee about the conflict stirred up by PG&E planning to cut trees down near its power lines is good in explaining how some environmental organizations don’t see the forest for the trees.

The Parkway—especially in the Skid Row area, Discovery Park to Cal Expo—is overgrown and is a large part of the reason so many homeless illegally camp there.

A well-cultivated Parkway with good sight lines, would benefit everyone and discourage illegal camping and reduce the damage from Parkway fires..

An excerpt.

Criticized for its role in several catastrophic California wildfires, state utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric is on a mission to clear trees near power lines that could topple and hit lines causing fires.

But is the giant utility going too far? A group of Sacramentans is saying yes.

Some members of the Save the American River Association and the American River Parkway Coalition and others are fighting to stop PG&E from cutting down what they estimate could be 100 cottonwood and oak trees near a major electricity transmission line that runs through the parkway near Discovery Park.That includes trees flanking the paved recreation trail, they say, based on blue dots the utility appears recently to have sprayed on trees. Saying they fear the utility company is overreacting, the group’s representatives say they want the utility company and the county, which oversees the parkway, to show evidence that trees need to be cut down rather than pruned.

“We do not think that process and planning should be thrown to the wind in a panic over the global problem of dealing with wildfires in California,” the river association’s Betsy Weiland said. “What is the real fire risk here?”

The disputed treeline in Sacramento runs for about a half mile along the north edge of the parkway, south of the Garden Highway and east of Discovery Park.

Weiland’s complaint echoes one earlier this year by some Napa residents who felt PG&E was overzealous in cutting trees there.PG&E officials say the parkway tree-cutting and brush-clearing project, which could start this month, is part of ambitious maintenance and fire-risk reduction work the company has been doing around the state since 2008 after the California Public Utilities Commission toughened its safety and outage regulations.

The utility company has been criticized in the last year by residents and state officials after a bevy of wildfires tied to downed power lines swept through the state in October 2017.

Investigative reports in May and June from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection linked PG&E to 16 fires in 2017 that killed 18 people and destroyed thousands of homes and other buildings. The PG&E service area covers much of northern and central California, and includes 18,000 miles of power lines. It will spend up to $70 million this year to clear vegetation near those lines, a spokesman said in an email.

Retrieved October 4, 2018 from https://www.sacbee.com/news/business/article219315140.html

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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