Imagine this: A group of young workers from Davey Tree Service shows up on your land ready to do “tree trimming” along the power lines. They insist that they cut all limbs and trees within a 12-foot radius of the power line. The PG&E regulations say 4-foot radius. You have heard about neighbors’ experiences where the limbs and cut trees were simply left.
What do you do? Are there alternative actions? Is there any recourse?
This week Napa Vision 2050 was contacted by a reporter from The New York Times who is doing an article on PG&E tree trimming. Gary Margadant arranged a tour of some of the sites where PG&E and their subcontractor Davey Tree has laid waste to swaths of forest. The article is forthcoming.
Below we have some of the first person accounts and comments of people who have encountered the above scenario.
Read the stories and take some of the suggestions. As one of the individuals said, ” The main thing is: Let folks know they have options. We’re not dummies, and each of us came away from meeting with the foresters that the only option we had is the AVM (Advanced Vegetation Management) because we’re in a high-risk area.”
Here are the details about PG&E new “enhanced” AVM. It clearly states what is required vs what is recommended:
“Our routine vegetation management work involves meeting important state vegetation and fire safety standards, which require clearances of 4 feet around power lines in high fire-threat areas, with recommended minimum clearances of 12 feet or more at time of prune to ensure compliance year-round.”
Read the details and see illustrations here to help you make the right choice for your property.
For excellent local information and advice we highly recommend seeking information from Firewise Napa
In addition, there are very localized Firesafe Councils formed to help our many communities: https://mtveederfiresafe.org and http://angwinfiresafe.org/w/
The councils are working hard to provide “home hardening” tips and defensible space advice.
First Person Accounts:
Ask questions! Seek alternative advice and information
A Dry Creek resident’s recent experience:
“My family has property on Wall Road off upper Dry Creek where we have been the subject of many
power line tree removal/trimming markings since the 2017 fires. This late spring, Davey Resources sent two young out-of-state foresters to once again mark our trees for removal/trimming along our power lines. They represented the PG&E program Advanced Vegetation Management which requires a 12 ft clearance on each side from the lines, plus severe trimming guidelines (what we were told: all the way to the top of the trees, along two sides). Walking the lines twice with the last forester indicated many well-established Douglas firs were marked for removal because the severe trimming would sooner or later weaken and kill the trees. Davey Resources was happy not to remove the trees but indicated liability would then shift to us, the property owners.For greater clarity, we contacted a forester associated with the Mount Veeder Firesafe Council who walked the power lines with us Saturday, June 15th. He recommended that we not participate with the AVM program and opt for a Routine Compliance program which incorporated the legal 4 ft clearance, not the radical 12 ft clearance.
Needless to say… we were shocked to hear we had such an option, for all along we had been led to believe it was the AVM program or nothing, and two, we were thrilled our D ouglas firs would be saved. PG&E was notified Monday, June 17th that we would not be participating in their AVM program.
A couple of weeks ago, a family member was texted that tree trimmers, subcontractors of PG&E, were at our property demanding access. No one was there, and the fellows dismantled our locked battery-powered gate and trespassed onto our property.
Two hours later a friend arrived to take care of the livestock and discovered the men, without IDs, in an unmarked truck in our driveway.
Members of our family didn’t return until early the next morning when after putting the gate back together, determined that nothing had been stolen. Contacting the Sheriff’s department about the trespass, we were told that these out of state contractors behaved like wild cowboys with their own rules, and it would be difficult to prove intentional trespass.”
Experience from a Mt Veeder resident:
“How many years after the fire? this morning PG&E has finally started trimming the trees. I was greeted this morning by a very large crew, ready to cut. I have shown the property to at least 12 different people from PG&E or the tree trimming services. Each time it’s a brand new experience for them. No one is passing on their notes. Everyone is nice enough but it’s getting ridiculous. Two weeks ago we were told they would start the next day. Now out of the blue they are here. Personally, I would not invest in PG&E. They have no idea what they are doing.”
And then the absurd: In case you missed this in the local paper, a couple in St Helena learned that a high voltage tower was planned for their backyard. Read the story here.