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Woman protects trees, opposes power company

Sierra Countis
Sierra Sun
Sierra Countis/Sierra SunCristina Wooley and Anne Alderson stand in front of one of the marked trees on Alderson's property located on Prosser Dam Road Monday afternoon.
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Truckee resident Anne Alderson stood in front of a group of pine trees outside her front yard Monday morning as a tree removal crew approached the trees with chainsaws in hand.

The Prosser Dam Road resident is disputing the clearing of six or seven trees, which are part of a large-scale removal plan by Sierra Pacific Power. Sierra Pacific owns a 90-foot easement for a 120 kV power line that runs through Alderson’s lot, as well as a 60 kV power line with a 40-foot easement.

She is one of 18 homeowners affected by the utility company’s tree-removal project. In all, hundreds of trees will be removed when the project is complete.

About 80 trees on the property are marked with bright pink Xs to be cut down, Alderson said. The group of trees she wants to save are underneath the 120 kV power line that dates back to 1949.

“The trees under the power line pre-date the easement,” said Cristina Wooley, Alderson’s attorney.

Alderson said she received an e-mail from Sierra Pacific on Thursday to notify her that a tree removal crew would be coming to cut down trees on her property Monday morning.

Sierra Pacific started notifying homeowners of the proposed tree removal in February, said Faye Andersen, Sierra Pacific spokesperson. The letter to Alderson was sent in November “as best we could tell when crews would be in the area,” Andersen said.

At 8 a.m. Monday, as the tree removal crew prepared to cut down the grouping of trees, Wooley and Alderson called Truckee police and positioned her body in front of the trees to prevent workers from cutting them down, Alderson said. Truckee police Sgt. Ted Bier said the situation was an “issue of access.” Police could not shut down the tree removal company’s work, Bier said.

If the two refused to back down, Wooley and Alderson were told by police they could have been arrested for obstructing the crew from its work, Wooley said.

Truckee police were contacted again later in the afternoon in an attempt to stop the crew’s work.

On the second call out to the property, Truckee police were able to contact Sierra Pacific personnel and an agreement was made to flag the trees Alderson doesn’t want cut down until a final decision is made. Wooley said she wasn’t able to get a restraining order on Monday because the court was too busy. The next step is to file an injunction to let a court decide the outcome, Wooley said.

“We wanted to avoid confrontation,” Anderson said. “We didn’t want anyone to get arrested.”

In a letter dated Nov. 7, Alderson said the last agreement between she and Sierra Pacific was to organize a legal discussion to decide the fate of the pine trees.

Alderson said she’s willing to allow her pine trees to be topped, just not cut down. However, Andersen said “topping of trees is really not an option” due to safety reasons such as a power outage and the risk of fire.


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