County Filing Complaint Against PG&E for Unpermitted Timber Harvesting

The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously agreed to file a complaint with the California Public Utilities Commission against Pacific Gas and Electric Company for what officials say is unpermitted timber harvesting and other activity in the wake of the CZU Lightning Complex fire.

As part of the resolution, county officials will contact the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), California Coastal Commission and other agencies to encourage them to investigate and possibly pursue criminal charges and seek other penalties.

The resolution comes as good news for residents of the burned areas who say they returned home after being evacuated to find that PG&E had cut down their trees without permission.

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PG&E helicopter trims trees along power lines in rural Sonoma County forest


Flying about 220 feet above ground in Sonoma County’s northwest corner, a PG&E-chartered helicopter gave a loud buzz cut to towering trees that threaten to drop branches on 46 miles of rural power transmission lines.

Moving slowly above the redwoods and Douglas firs of the coastal mountains, the helicopter guided a 30-foot vertical saw — with eight whirling steel blades — over rugged terrain where tree limbs pose a threat to high-voltage power lines from Fort Ross to Fort Bragg.

Trimming 3 miles a day, the Heli-Saw is making its Sonoma County debut as PG&E’s ultimate vegetation management tool.

“We can do in one day what would take a crew of climbers three to four weeks,” said Brian Mulhollen, division manager/safety officer with Heli-Dunn, the Medford, Oregon-based company that works for PG&E throughout its 70,000-square-mile territory.

Approaching a clearing along Tin Barn Road in the Annapolis area Tuesday, the Astar 350 helicopter blasted observers with roaring engine noise and rotor wash as the clattering saw severed protruding tree limbs.

In the cockpit, pilot Casey Blacker peered through a large bubble in his side window to watch the tops of the trees ahead and keep the saw suspended on a pole below in his peripheral vision.

The biggest challenge, Blacker said during a refueling stop in a nearby field, is trimming trees through a canyon when the helicopter descends as the power lines ahead begin rising.

“It’s no fun,” said Blacker, who has thousands of hours of Heli-Saw flight time. “Things like that make more of a mental barrier. You get tense.”

At times the saw stops when it encounters a tree growing within another tree, sending a shudder up the pole and into the helicopter.

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Can Planting Trees Make a City More Equitable?

Cities across the U.S. are pledging to plant trees and restore urban forests to combat climate change and cool off disadvantaged communities.

As the U.S. grapples with natural disasters and racial injustice, one coalition of U.S. cities, companies and nonprofits sees a way to make an impact on both fronts: trees.

Specifically, they committed to planting and restoring 855 million of them by 2030 as part of the Trillion Trees Initiative, a global push to encourage reforestation to capture carbon and slow the effects of global heating. Announced on Thursday, it’s the first nationwide pledge to the program, and additionally noteworthy because the U.S. group — which includes Microsoft Corp. and Mastercard Inc. — will focus on urban plantings as means of improving air quality in communities that have been disproportionately affected by pollution and climate change.

“We’re passionate about urban forestry and the goal of tree equity,” says Jad Daley, president and chief executive officer of American Forests, the longtime conservation group that’s helped organize the pledge. “It’s not just about more trees in cities. If you show me a map of tree cover in any city, you’re showing me a map of race and income levels. We see this as nothing less than a moral imperative.”

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Don’t believe self-serving messengers. Logging will not prevent destructive wildfires

My community of Big Bear City, in the mountains east of Los Angeles, had a tense week recently. For a few nerve-racking days, the El Dorado fire, which has burned more than 20,000 acres in and around the San Bernardino National Forest, threatened to move our way.

The fire had seen little movement in the previous days, despite the fact that it was burning in dense forests with many dead trees and downed logs. Weather conditions had been cool and calm. Then things changed, and quickly. The weather shifted to hot, dry and windy. Right away, the El Dorado fire began spreading much more rapidly, toward Big Bear. We were notified to prepare for potential evacuation. Several days later, temperatures cooled again, winds died down and fire activity calmed.

Scenarios like this are playing out across the western United States, especially in California and Oregon. Many homes have been lost and, tragically, at least 30 lives too. Numerous communities have been forced to evacuate, displacing thousands of families. People are scared and looking for answers.

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Obi Kaufmann: The Forests of California by Ken Preston

Obi Kaufmann will discuss his new book, The Forests of California: A California Field Atlas & answer questions. Host: Brian Edwards-Tiekert

About this Event

KPFA Radio 94.1 FM with Heyday Books presents a webinar

Obi Kaufmann

The Forests of California

A California Field Atlas with Brian Edwards-Tiekert


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Suggested Donation $5-$20. After you visit the eventbrite tickets donation page, you will be given a Zoom link to use for the program.

From the author of The California Field Atlas comes another major work that not only guides readers through the Golden State’s forested lands, but also presents a profoundly original vision of nature in the 21st century. The Forest of California features a stunning wealth of Obi Kaufmann’s signature watercolor illustrations, maps, and trail paintings, weaving them into an accessible exploration of the biodiversity that defines California in the global imagination. Kaufmann tells an epic story that spans millions of years, nearly one hundred species of trees, and an astonishing richness of ecosystems. The Forests of California is the first volume in a planned trilogy of field atlases, with The Coasts of California and The Deserts of California yet to come.

Just as Kaufmann is creating a fresh understanding of the more-than-human world, KPFA Radio is herewith undertaking the new visual media of the webinar, leaping off with The Forests of California – a work unusually deserving of being visible on our screens.

Growing up in the East Bay as the son of an astrophysicist and a psychologist, Kaufmann spent most of his high school practicing calculus and breaking away on weekends to scramble around Mount Diablo and map its creeks, oak forests, and sage expanses. Into adulthood he regularly journeyed into the mountains. He is the author of The California Field Atlas, which won the California Book Award, and The State of Water: Understanding California’s Most Precious Resource. His website is

Brian Edwards-Tiekert is the founder and co-host of UpFront, the morning drive-time public affairs program on KPFA Radio. He began working in media by helping to set up the Independent Media Center in Chiapas, Mexico, where he also did human rights work. For two years, he ran a nationwide support program for progressive publications at colleges and universities. Brian started at KPFA as a beat reporter covering environmental justice issues, during which time he served as a network correspondent during international climate negotiations. In 2016, he was awarded a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University.


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