Some Lake County residents upset over tree removal

- It's been three and a half weeks since the Valley Fire leveled entire neighborhoods as it ripped through Lake County, but with the recovery process underway, some landowners are upset over the many trees being taken out.

Some residents argue the tree removal is overzealous.

In the small devastated Anderson Springs community, not far from Middletown, crews are cutting down and removing trees damaged by the fire. Every tree marked with an X is at least being considered for removal. One man lost his house, and now expects to lose all his trees.

"We can't rebuild until those trees are gone," said Charles Trevino, worrying that they will fall. "Oh, they will fall."

But up the road, not everyone is happy.

"I think the company that's cutting them is just letting them...just do whatever you think needs to be cut," said landowner Dan Nielsen.

He says he thinks the utility is taking advantage of a bad situation.

"I think that PG&E is cutting what they can while they can," said Nielsen.

Nielsen adds his trees were cut down without his knowledge.

"They just want to take this time to cut everything back as far as they can cause they don't want to deal with it," he explained.

There is an online petition to slow the process down. Many residents went to the Lake County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday morning and complained about the situation.

"There's a lot of people that are upset about it. I just came from the Board of Supervisors meeting in Lakeport. And they're aware of the concerns that people have," said Dennis Kilkenny, who lost his home.

He says he wants all the trees around what's left of his home taken down because if they stay up and then they come down in a storm, they could block the adjacent creek causing another disaster for homeowners in the area.

"It will dam at the bridges and you'll lose our bridges and it will wash out the homes that are still standing," said Kilkenny.

"Trees are like the rock star of the ecosystem," said Calfire Captain Joe Fletcher. He says Calfire is having trees removed for a simple reason.

"Those trees that were destroyed in the fire will be taken down as a precaution to keep them from falling on people or property," said Fletcher.

PG&E is taking out trees because especially damaged trees can easily knock down power lines. But utility officials tell KTVU their crews are focused on trees that are hazardous now or have the potential to become hazardous in the near future, adding that they try to contact landowners whenever possible.

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