Our supervisors need to hear from you!

PG&E has hired teams of tree cutters and arborists from out of state to work on the right of way/easements for the PG&E power line. These hired-saws appear to have no idea about redwood resiliency after fires. A research study after the 2008 fires in the coastal redwood forests has called redwoods “almost indestructible.” Berkeley ecologist Benjamin S. Ramage, who led the study, reported “One year later, even large trees where all the foliage was scorched off were covered with a light green fuzz of new foliage. Of trees over 1.5 feet in diameter, maybe only one redwood out of a hundred was killed.”

But the tree cutters on Mt. Veeder appear not to have heard of this study. And unlike areas where severely damaged oaks had to be cut and were then cut up into small logs, the downed redwoods are loaded onto flatbed trailers by excavators and hauled off. One wonders, are they planning on selling the lumber?

To add insult to injury, the workers are using the south end of Mt Veeder to transport their equipment and the trunks, all passing over the restricted culvert with a load limit of 12 tons, easily surpassing the load limit for that road section.  If that stone culvert collapses and cuts off the south access to Mt Veeder Road, another burden will be placed on the residents.  Steve Lederer knows well about this culvert limits after neighborhood protests when Mayacamas Vineyards received county permission to transport a 40 ton tractor across the culvert.

To date, residents are doing the policing themselves, staying onsite to protect the redwoods and keeping the tree cutters off their and others’ properties.This is a situation which could escalate without our supervisors’ intervention. Although PG&E has the right to go on private property to take care of a PG&E easement, including cutting trees within the 20′ easement, they cannot haul the logs off without the consent of the owner. One resident is in touch with the lawyers who handled the PG&E disaster in San Bruno. Is this high-handed logging in the guise of Right of Way protection?  Certainly nothing about this is collaborative.

It is critically important that you contact the two supervisors whose districts include this what is effectively a logging operation, Ryan Gregory and Diane Dillon. Tell them that our redwoods are a precious resource and their viability needs to be assessed by arborists who are familiar with redwood forests. Ask them to intervene and protect our forests and citizens, as well as to investigate the use of the 12 ton culvert to transport the logged redwoods.

 

                            

Ryan Gregory

District 2

Tel:  (707)259-8276 (Direct)

Tel:  (707) 253-4386 (Main)

Fax: (707) 253-4176

ryan.gregory@countyofnapa.org

 

 

Diane Dillon                                        

District 3

Tel:  (707) 944-8280

Fax: (707) 253-4176

Diane.Dillon@countyofnapa.org

2 Comments, RSS

  • D Dillon

    says on:
    December 7, 2017 at 12:42 am

    The issue of tree removal following the recent wildfires is one we are monitoring closely.

    While we have no regulatory or other authority over PG&E’s current activities, we (Supervisors) and County staff have had discussions with PG&E – and continue to talk to them – about this issue. PG&E has a mandate to remove dead or dying trees along their overhead lines. But because of disagreements over the condition of particular trees, we pushed hard for PG&E to establish a process to resolve disputes prior to cutting. They committed to this and now ask for affected property owners to call 800-743-5000 (customers impacted by the fires may press 1 for priority assistance; note: it may take several calls before a response is received).

    If this does not work, a property owner can file a complaint with the CA Public Utilities Commission – http://cpuc.ca.gov/. There are various forms of contact information at that site; we suggest contacting the individual office of each Commissioner (go to “About Us” – and there’s a link to each Commissioner – and then a link to their staff and numbers/emails for them).

    If none of this works, please let us know so that can exert whatever additional pressure we are able to as the County.

    For those property owners that want to keep cut logs (or alternatively have them removed by PG&E), that is a civil issue between the property owner and PG&E. Again, we have urged PG&E to make sure it or its contractors are not removing cut trees unless they are legally permitted to do so, but there are no legal/legislative remedies available to the County for us to be able to intervene.

    We will continue to:
    • Request PG&E cease cutting without an arborist opinion; and
    • Request PG&E engage with property owners directly when contacted regarding tree removal on their property; and
    • Request PG&E confirm in writing their understanding with the property owner to avoid future disputes

    Regarding the bridge on lower Mt. Veeder Road with a weight restriction, all parties involved in fire response (PG&E, Army Corps of Engineers and their contractors, AT&T, etc.) have been specifically notified regarding the 12-ton limit. They are not supposed to use the bridge if they can’t meet the weight limit, and law enforcement will enforce to the extent practical.

    Thanks for your interest in this important issue. Please forward this message to anyone you know that is currently dealing with PG&E tree removal, and thanks for that help.

    • Patricia Damery

      says on:
      December 7, 2017 at 2:30 pm

      Diane and Ryan, We applaud your meeting with residents and seeing what the concerns are. This is the only way to sort this out.There are mixed stories coming out on what happened with the tree removal from the PG&E easements, and your presence will help get to the bottom of it. We hope you also continue to put a great deal of pressure on the CPUC and PG&E, as anything coming from the county has a great deal more weight than from any one property owner. We look to you to provide ongoing leadership on Mt. Veeder. We understand a resident is organizing a Walk-through with you and owners about their own experiences. Please help residents with the contact with the CPUC. It is enough to lose your home and/or have your property burned, but in those circumstances, many of us need a helping hand on getting to the right resources. People’s frustrations rise when they feel alone.

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