Truckee residents continue to push back on town’s roadway vegetation management project
Talks continued last week regarding Truckee’s 2021 Roadway Vegetation Management Project following an outcry of public comments from those living in the areas where work is being done.
The town is working to treat more than 100 miles of roadway by removing vegetation that is less than 24 inches in diameter within 10 feet of the road pavement.
“Things have and are changing, creating more fire risk in Truckee,” said Truckee Fire Chief Bill Seline during an online meeting May 19.
Work has already been completed in Tahoe Donner and is now underway in Glenshire. Sierra Meadows and Prosser Lakeview are set to be treated this summer.
The goals of the project are to increase public safety and wildfire resiliency through improved evacuation routes, improve roadside safety, and improve right-of-way maintenance and operations like snow removal.
Residents in the neighborhoods, however, say the project’s scope is overreaching and that dozens of trees will be removed, changing the character of the neighborhoods.
“There are a lot of us who are very frustrated by the scope, and scale, and the approach that the town has taken to this project,” said resident Sarah Green.
Many questions regarding public and private land and the town’s right-of-way were raised, which Town Engineer Dan Wilkins said has often been a misconception of property owners in the area. The town’s right-of-way extends 15 to 20 feet past the paved roads on most streets where work is being done.
“We understand the character that those trees bring to the neighborhood and we appreciate that,” said Wilkins. “So, it’s balancing that character … with what is hopefully a low possibility that a fire comes through.”
Truckee’s Emergency Services Coordinator Robert Womack was also at the meeting, and stressed the importance of having clear evacuation routes during a fire.
“Unfortunately, all the big fires what we find is people clog roads,” said Womack. “We’ve got to give them a chance for survival. That’s really what this come down to … so that people can get out.”
Wilkins said he disagrees with some aspects of the project — trees on roadway islands being left in place in areas like Sierra Meadows, and a change in the project scope compared with work done in Tahoe Donner.
“When this project gets completed, even with its current scope, and you compare what we’re going to end up with Sierra Meadows as compared to Tahoe Donner, it’s going to be significantly different and significantly diminished in terms of the overall effectiveness of the project,” said Wilkins.
Still, residents in the neighborhoods disagree with the town’s approach and have lobbied to have the project put on the Town Council’s agenda.
“All I ask is that we move forward using science and logic,” said resident Mike Wolf.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-550-2643
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