The Lorax in Folsom: City leaders pause plan for tree destruction in nature area as outcry erupts

Dozens of residents convince Folsom City Council to temporarily halt a plan to destroy dozens of trees in Hinkle Creek

Folsom’s official motto is “distinctive by nature,” so when residents learned that city officials were planning to hurt or destroy nearly 80 trees in its only nature preserve, their response was deafening.

On June 13, a crowd of angry residents flowed into Folsom City Hall and convinced council members to reconsider.

Folsom’s director of environmental and water resources, Marcus Yasutake, has been pushing for approval to cut a road through the Hinkle Creek Nature Area. Yasutake wants to make sure heavy-duty Vactor trucks can drive the woods and reach a handful of manholes connected to a problematic sewer line. When a group of residents learned of the proposal, they spent months consulting outside sewer experts to see if there was an alternative. Yasutake rejected the group’s alternate plan, continuing to lobby the City Council to build the road.

When council members readied to take a vote June 13, more than 50 residents made their voices heard, with another 50 submitting written objections.

Saad Merayyan, an expert on water engineering and hydrology, told council members that maintenance of the troubled sewer line could be done with simple debris buckets and a high-tech warning system for a fraction of the cost of building a road.

“It would be less destructive to nature,” Merayyan stressed.

Other speakers threatened to vote the incumbents out of office if the trees were cut.

Hours later, the Folsom City Council directed Yasutake to explore, in the words of Mayor Andy Morin, “less intrusive options” for handling the sewer line and to report back. The directive sparked rousing applause from the audience.