Suzie Tarnay: We can do better

I am opposed to the implementation of the Truckee Vegetation Management Project. It does not adhere to fire science, town sustainability goals, or modern planning. We must preserve some mature street-adjacent trees for heat mitigation, traffic calming, carbon sequestration and walkability.

The justification has evolved: from fire resilience, snow storage, and road maintenance ease, to emergency vehicle access. Some concerns are valid, but all leave room for site-specific applications. Tree removal for snow storage and road maintenance is short sighted in light of our warming future, exacerbating imminent heat issues, and carbon emissions. Egress issues from street flame encroachment do not occur with properly spaced, mature, limbed trees, and high water content species like aspens.

There is a solution between cutting all, and leaving all, and it is not the current 24-inch diameter tree exemption. I understand, ladder- and surface fuels must be removed, but a fuels specialist should determine where to thin tree stands and preserve trees, as is industry standard. In our implementation, ladder fuels outside the arbitrary 10-foot mark will stay, while fire-resistant trees inside the mark are removed, an unnecessary destruction of shade-providing, carbon sequestering, traffic-calming trees. Science-based decisions could bring actual fire resilience to this project, and concurrently improve public support.

Due to record high temperatures, wildfires, smoke impacts, and promised power outages, a blanket policy that removes the shade trees farthest from our homes is irrational. This decision will make life hotter, less accessible, and more dangerous for the next generation of Truckee residents. The town resists planting street trees, but willingly destroys existing, free, shade infrastructure. This is the hottest summer on record, but will also be the coolest summer of the future. Amend this project to bring science, logic, climate and fire resilience to our town. We can do better.

Suzie Tarnay


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