NEVADA CITY, Calif. (KTXL) — A planned PG&E tree clearing project in Nevada County has prompted a group of people to stage a camp-in in a tree near downtown Nevada City.
The group is protesting the cutting of 16 trees, including a century-old Blue Atlas cedar, which Nevada City arborists say can still be salvaged even though PG&E’s arborists say they must come down to reduce wildfire risks.
“I’m here to help save this tree,” tree sitter Joy Knight said. “It’s a 160-year-old tree, so we can’t exactly get that 160 years back.”
Knight is one of dozens of activists staging the demonstration.
“I’ve been up here for three days. I come at 8 o’clock in the morning and I stay until 4 o’clock,” tree sitter Kim Snyder said.
Snyder says she moved to Nevada City because the chamber of commerce has a historic tree walking tour. The cedar was one of the stops.
“Ninety-five percent of the people who have come by have honked and supported us,” she said.
The cedar is one of 263 trees PG&E has identified as potentially hazardous to power lines in case of high winds.
“The work that this project is encompassing would potentially allow downtown Nevada City to be energized during a public safety power shut off,” PG&E spokeswoman Brandi Merlo said.
But protesters tell FOX40 they’re not trying to save all 200-plus trees, just about 17 that a Nevada City arborist has said could be spared in PG&E’s efforts to protect their lines.
“We believe that PG&E is working too quickly and making rush judgements,” protester Matt Osypowski said.
Several of the other trees the group is fighting for are in the Pioneer Cemetery up the street, where Felix Gillet, the man who planted the Blue Atlas cedar, is buried.
PG&E says it is reviewing the city’s arborist report, but with Red Flag forecast still a possibility this fire season, time is of the essence.
“We need to do this work now,” Merlo told FOX40.
Protesters say they want to encourage anyone who wants to to come to the tree and try climbing up and spending some time in it. They aren’t spending the night in the tree right now, but they say if PG&E doesn’t back down, it might come to that.
“I would pretty much do anything to save this tree at this point,” Snyder said.