PG&E Power Line Clearing in Summit Valley

Felled trees under powerlines near Van Norden dam in Summit Valley-06 1-5-14Anyone driving up Soda Springs road will notice that there is a new view of Van Norden Meadow from the road. That new clarity is due to a forest clearing project by PG&E that started last September. Apparently PG&E was directed by the Feds to clear more area under their power lines that run through Van Norden Meadow. According to the logging crew manager, the purpose of the project was to widen the cleared area under their lines by 30 ft on each side.


PG&E clearing project

The project started in September and proceeded from east to west starting near Sugar Bowl. The area near Soda Springs Rd required additional clearing because the two sets of power lines diverge in this area and are farther apart.


More extensive clearing was required along Soda Springs Rd

In the past PG&E cleared narrow areas under each set of lines leaving an intervening band of forest. For this project the borders were widened and the intervening forest was cleared, leaving over a 200 ft wide cleared area. There are a lot of downed trees out there now that I assume PG&E will be removing in the spring when weather conditions permit. The result of this project is not only a more fire safe meadow, but we also have a brand new view of Van Norden Lake and Meadow.

Update 1/27/14 – It turns out that it is the land owner that is responsible for removing the felled trees. That means the Truckee Donner Land Trust is on the hook to remove the trees. I assume that will happen next summer when the weather permits. The trees are primarily Lodgepole pines which means they will only be used for firewood or chipping.

Cleared forest along powerlines in Summit Valley pano2 1-5-14

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6 Responses to PG&E Power Line Clearing in Summit Valley

  1. Karen Vick says:

    Thanks for the explanation as to why the trees were felled. However, I think it looks awful. We now can see the ugly power station in clear view. I can’t image that PGE needs this much room to maintain these power lines, I think it is overkill. Unsettling too that they can just come in and do this on private property without consent or at least discussing the details. Now, we have a big pile of tree trunks to discard. Since they are the property of the Truckee Donner Land Trust why don’t they try selling them? I am sure a firewood company might want them. Or, why not offer them up to residents for free. Some might have the means to cut and split them for their firewood. It seems like a plan should be determined before they just remain there and rot.

  2. admin says:

    Karen – Your comment sounds particularly familiar to me. Ah yes now I remember. My wife Linda said almost exactly the same thing to me just a few days ago. I have to agree that the substation is pretty ugly. I agree that it is somewhat disturbing that PG&E seems to have ultimate power (no pun intended) when it comes to their utility right away for their power lines. Unfortunately, those power lines are an important link in the national power grid and apparently have very high priority. My understanding is that PG&E was mandated by the Federal government to do this trimming. With respect to the felled trees, unfortunately they are almost entirely Lodgepole Pine which is really considered a “weed” tree. The only thing they are good for is firewood or chipping. One solution would be for the Land Trust to incorporate the removal of the tree with their planned forestry project around Serene Lakes. I guess it would also be possible to make some of it available to local firewood vendors.

  3. Heather Wu says:

    Thank you for the update. We were up last weekend and it was a bit of a shock. As always we are grateful for your continuous attention to the welfare of our beloved Serene Lakes and surrounding splendor.

  4. Jane vonBothmer says:

    This is truly, truly disheartening. I cannot fathom why PG&E would need this type of clearance, as this does not seem typical for this area. PG&E should be ashamed for this unsightly and unenvironmental clear cutting. The community should protest this.

  5. Guy Thomsen says:

    Like the others, thanks for the clarification. I was a bit taken back when I first saw that area and the clear cutting but I did see the positive side of a better view.

  6. Steve Evans says:

    I can understand the requirement to clear the trees, especially those surrounding a power substation. Should a wildfire come through that area the substation would have certainly been destroyed and power to Serene Lakes cut. The outage would have lasted several days, perhaps a week or more. The contents of hundreds of refrigerators would have spoiled. At that point everyone would be demanding to know why Sierra Pacific didn’t clear the area around the substation.

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