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CITIZENS GROUP SEEKS TO BLOCK SDG&E PLAN TO CUT ALL TREES WITHIN 25 FEET OF POWER LINES




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By Miriam Raftery

May 24, 2009 (Ramona)—San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) wants to expand its right to trim or remove trees within 18 inches of power lines dramatically – increasing that range to 25 feet on either side of power lines. On Friday, the Mussey Grade Road Alliance, a citizens’ watchdog group, has filed an opening brief with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) opposing SDG&E’s plan.

“Were a utility to trim according to the proposed SDG&E guidelines, affecting a swath roughly 50-feet wide, it would remove or damage approximately 5 acres per mile," the brief concludes. "Were this to be applied to the entire SDG&E network, an area of 40,000 acres could be potentially affected. While not all the SDG&E service area is within the area deemed high fire risk, it is clear that many thousands of acres of trees and vegetation would be affected by their tree removal program that are not affected now."

Such an expanded vegetation management project should trigger a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review, the group argues.

SDG&E argues that the tree trimming and removal is necessary to prevent future wildfires. SDG&E has admitted in documents with the CPUC that its lines have been responsible for starting 167 fires in the last five and a half years. The utility faces lawsuits from area residents, insurers and local governments for damage from the 2007 wildfires.

Mussey Grade Road Alliance is a citizens’ organization that has been committed to protecting the community from wildfire. Following recent fires, the group has also been involved in planting new trees in burned-out areas.

The Alliance brief, signed by spokesperson Diane Conklin and dated May 22, 2009, seeks establishment of a “reasonableness standard. It observes that “to our utter astonishment, SDG&E has proposed what is effectively a massive tree removal program that would devastate whole environments and viewsheds along our rural roads and private property throughout San Diego’s backcountry as well as in the entire SDG&E service area by cutting 50-foot swaths through thousands of miles of easements, with impacts affecting uncalculated thousands of acres.”

The Alliance observes that a vegetation management program of removing swaths of trees from the path of every conductor could include severe environmental damage including:

-severe habitat fragmentation from a 50-foot gap in trees over thousands of miles of
powerlines
--unstudied changes to predator/prey relationships
--unknown changes in erosion
--changes in stream sedimentation
--impacts to threatened, endangered, and vulnerable species

I don't think that this is a

I don't think that this is a good idea to remove trees as we know that for a healthy environment trees are very important. So, these should not be removed from that area.
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A good review for expanded

A good review for expanded vegetation management project should trigger a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) I have a Grandfather which used to live in California, they had a dog and they used dog invisible fence for their dogs. And at the back is our big Farm.

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Mussey Grade Road Alliance is a citizens’ organization that has been committed to protecting the community from wildfire.

California Environmental Quality

Were a utility to trim according to the proposed SDG&E guidelines, affecting a swath roughly 50-feet wide, it would remove or damage approximately 5 acres per mile. the brief concludes. Were this to be applied to the entire SDG&E network, an area of 40,000 acres could be potentially affected. While not all the SDG&E service area is within the area deemed high fire risk, it is clear that many thousands of acres of trees and vegetation would be affected by their tree removal program that are not affected now.

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Tree Cutting is a crime

The beautiful oak trees are planted where they are for reasons beyond our understanding. Think earth cycle of life! Cutting the trees and clearing chaparral is to 'prevent' fires is as harmful to the earth as the Amazon forest clearing & farming industry.

Why doesn't SDG&E take the funds allocated for future lawsuits and use them to BURY the lines in the earth, to be invisible and have no fire threat whatsoever?

Sharon Courmousis, writes the Purple Mountain Sage and is co-owner of a nature preserve in Boulevard, CA called Sacred Rocks Reserve.

SDG&E's power

Where does SDG&E get all this power? No pun intended. They think they can just wipe out trees near powerlines, saying they are trying to better protect us against wild fires, when all they are really trying to do is protect themselves against further lawsuits. They want to shut off power to East County during high fire threat days for our protection?
How does this protect East County folks who need electricity to run their wells? How safe is it during fire threat days, not to have access to water? Will SDG&E pay for our spoiled foods when they turn off the power? Will SDG&E pay for our appliances when a power surge destroys them? Will SDG&E come rescue us if we are stranded without any communication? And last, but not least, why would SDG&E even consider putting the Sunrise Powerlink through our beautiful back country, when they fully admit that it is a class one fire threat?
I say someone needs to cut off the power to SDG&E!

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