PG&E’s assault on another mountain community

Residents, including those in Forest Ranch, should reject the butchering of healthy trees

The author, a Forest Ranch resident for 28 years, is an emergency room registered nurse.

In an attempt to improve its public-safety image, PG&E is playing on people’s fear of wildfire by dramatically changing our Forest Ranch neighborhood, with beautiful tree-lined streets becoming a thing of the past.

As part of its efforts to create clearance near power-line easements, PG&E plans to remove all vegetation within 12 feet of its infrastructure. Many of these trees are strong and healthy, unlikely to be threats, and are already heavily pruned. So far this past winter, three different contractors for PG&E have come through to flag and trim “potential threats” to the power lines, but this is apparently not enough.

The dead, dying and diseased trees that pose threats should be felled. However, mature, healthy trees only add to the beauty, ecosystem and well-being of our neighborhood. We already have dealt with tree contractors’ poor aesthetics, often resulting in mere stumps. Must we also submit to the loss of our mature trees, the very essence of “Forest” Ranch?

When a tree contractor is questioned, there are two responses. The first is that heavy snowfall will fell the tree, causing power failure. Restoring power takes a day; restoring a mature tree takes a lifetime. The second response preys on the public’s fear of wildfire. However, we know the Camp Fire was due to equipment failure and high-voltage transmission lines needing overhaul, not from a tree striking the line.

This year, PG&E is letting property owners either accept or decline tree contractors’ recommendations. Residents should look at these strong, mature, majestic trees that have stood against every other threat and ask, “Is this beautiful tree truly a threat?”

PG&E recently announced it’s burying lines in much of the Camp Fire burn scar, but what about other fire-prone regions? Think of the future lives, forest land and cost that would be saved. Hopefully property owners will reject PG&E’s short-sighted, self-serving removal of healthy trees and force the company to concentrate efforts on hazardous trees and undergrowth.