SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — No one wants a repeat of last October’s devastating wine country wildfires, especially environmentalists.
Despite the potential danger trees pose near power lines, advocates with the Save The American River Parkway are fighting to protect about 100 sycamore and oak trees along a popular Discovery Park recreation area.
PG&E said the trees could topple directly onto the 115,000 volt West Sacramento Brighton Transmission line. The American River Parkway isn’t in a high fire zone, according to the state fire map, but PG&E crews say they’re required by law to maintain clearances.
“What? Is the answer that we go around and chop down every tree in the state of California that is near a power line?” said Betsy Weiland of the Save the American River Parkway.
PG&E said it’ll spend up to $70 million this year to clear vegetation around the state. In some mountain communities, the company is even setting up base camps for tree trimming crews.
The work follows a Cal Fire report, which blames PG&E’s power lines for coming into contact with trees and sparking four of last year’s northern California wildfires.
“These are healthy trees… what can be done instead of cutting (them) down?” said Weiland.
Weiland hopes they think of the species and their habitat.
“You can’t just take a population and say, ‘We’ll get rid of your homes, grocery stores, and habitat,’” she said.
PG&E says work could begin as early as this month. A spokesman said, “the company did its own environmental review and worked around any concerns such as not doing work around nesting season.”
The river association said it’s preparing to take legal action if necessary.