NEVADA CITY (CBS13) — Activists are vowing to sit in trees near Pioneer Cemetery until Pacific Gas and Electric comes to the table to hear them out.
Limb by limb, PG&E is cutting down up to 263 trees near Nevada City to lower the fire danger. After a court cleared the utility to move forward, removal work is continuing.
Now the group called “Save Nevada County trees,” which sued the city, PG&E and its contractor, is climbing the trees and risking arrest to save 16 of them.
“I’m staying in this tree until PG&E goes away,” said one activist.
The climbers sat in a 100-year-old ponderosa tree Monday.
Activist Joy Knight said, “The trees they’ve been cutting down, some of them are a necessity, but some of them are not.”
Former Mayor Reinette Senum, a part of the activist group, took the fight on the ground.
“The impact of what it’s doing to our town is going to be long-lasting. If they can do that in these streets and in this cemetery, they can do it anywhere in this community,” she said.
Grayson Davenport is a Nevada City resident protesting the tree removal. He says the “ad hoc” group of protesters is asking the utility company to compromise by cutting branches close to power lines as opposed to chopping down the 16 trees entirely.
PG&E says cutting these trees will shorten the length of the Public Safety Power Shutoffs.
Davenport said some of the targeted trees are considered historic in Nevada City.
“Right now we’re on the edge of the cemetery. We’ve got graves here going back to the 1800s. The people in those graves are the reason these trees are here. It’s almost like killing a person,” Davenport said.
But PG&E says they’ve evaluated each tree that has been tagged for removal and determined they can’t take calculated risks like just chopping off branches, they only option to guarantee safety during fire season is to remove the trees completely.
In a statement, PG&E says they’re working with local officials to make sure the work can be done and is warning people to respect the work zone for their safety.
The climbers stayed up in the trees well into the night.
The utility has already started work to remove trees around Nevada City. Though they say they’re bringing in an arborist to evaluate the “Blue Atlas” tree imported from Morocco years ago that tree-sitters wish to protect.