Concerns about DWP-ordered tree removal

Late last week, an Independence resident on a walk saw a crew start to cut down trees that line Onion Valley Road – a familiar, beautiful and shady feature of the small town.  Another citizen and finally County Public Works checked it out and found that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power had hired Pestmaster Services to cut down eight trees that were supposedly diseased.

As word spread through town, calls started to go in to Inyo County Administrator Kevin Carunchio. He confirmed that the trees are on the County right of way and that this requires approval by the Board of Supervisors.

Nina Weisman of Independence said a resident on a walk called her to report that Pestmaster’s crews had cut down two trees and were on the way to a third tree.
Weisman responded.  She asked the Pestmaster’s men about what they were doing.  She said they reported that DWP had hired them.  Weisman said the trees are on a County right of way and the County should be called.  They stopped work.

Inyo Deputy Public Works Director Jim Tatum said there is a Board policy on tree removal.  Tatum said DWP was unaware of that and had received a complaining call about the condition of the trees.  Tatum said DWP consulted an arborist, apparently from Pestmaster who said the trees are diseased with Anthracnose which is a leaf blight.  Tatum said they recommended cutting down eight trees and pruning 13 followed by a fertilization process.

Citizens also pointed to the fact that the trees have not been watered in a ditch which has long run past all 21 trees but has lately been dry.  Tatum said he hopes this issue will be publicly addressed too.  Apparently DWP had plans to re-plant new trees which presumably would have to be watered. The University of Colorado recommends that Anthracnose diseased trees should be treated and watered during dry winters and other dry times.

The County tree policy says removal of trees by parties other than the county shall be limited to trees that must be removed for vehicular access, trees to provide sight distance for an entrance, trees endangering the health, welfare and peace of mind of a property owner, or if a “substantial” number of property owners in the vicinity have signed a statement, or trees that interfere with functions of a public utility where no other reasonable alternative exists.  It’s not clear that the case on Market Street matches any of those reasons.

DWP will have to appear before the Board of Supervisors on this. (Photos by Rick Masters)

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22 Responses to Concerns about DWP-ordered tree removal

  1. Clyde A. December 10, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    I am so dismayed that we keep letting DWP control the Owens Valley. They will keep up any and all attempts to rule and control our valley. They do not care about any of us in the Owens valley, including there employees. They only want water and no intervention from any outside body. They are the law!
    We as citizens need to mobilize, it is time to kick them out of the valley!!!!

  2. Ted December 10, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    Thanks to Nina Weisman for tellilng Pestmasters that the trees are on a County right of way and glad Pestmasters agreed to stop.

  3. Jarod December 10, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    A lack of respect for the town of Independence is the problem here. To blame might be the residents themselves. Businesses and homeowners, look around. Do you see the properties on main street that look like construction zones, the plugged in trailers and motorhomes located illegally behind restaurants and in front of houses, many homes not up to code with burned out garages or junk all around them or how about the host of abandoned vehicles with flat tires in the back alleys? Have you tried to sell your home here? What does the lack of pride do to this community? As for the trees, it’s definitely a tragedy but frankly so are all the other lackadaisical attitudes about the town.

    • Big AL December 10, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

      That is an interesting point Jarod, but I don’t think it is relevant to this issue.

  4. NewDay December 9, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    No, no cartoon. I’m serious. We have 3 new board members coming in January. At least two of them worked with FOI and OVC to get elected. I don’t know about the third. This is what we NEED to get these DWP thugs to back down. Articles in the LA Times isn’t going to cut it. Local action is – and it started with the election. Why do you think DWP is flexing their muscle all over the valley? They’re running scared.

    • Taylor December 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

      I sure hope you are right about our supervisors standing up to DWP but seeing is believing. So I guess we have to wait and see. In the meantime keep nipping at their heels.

    • Trouble December 9, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

      NewDay- I hope you are right and would love to finally see our local officials take DWP on. Especially on the ground water levels and dust control problems.

    • Big AL December 10, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

      I think it needs to be more than local action new day … Local is local .. who is watching the local news here? Locals right? .. yeah small stories probably go out on the wire, but the problem needs more than local action .. and exposure!

      • Facts v opinion December 11, 2012 at 10:58 am #

        Thanks for presenting hard, cold facts to us Big Al.
        We need more that today.
        Much better than the usual blowhard far-right sounding opinions you hear on talk-radio shows.

  5. Steve Dickinson December 9, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    None of my business, but I had heard that DWP had stopped watering those particular sycamores some time ago, which, from my perspective, seemed to be a rather “Darth Vadar”-like move to insure their demise, which would in turn, continue to dismantle the diminishing abience and allure of this little town.

    Moreover, anthracnose is a common occurrence on sycamores, and can easliy be managed. This removal seems disingenuous and calculated, as one might expect from the DWP.

    From Riverside

  6. Trouble December 9, 2012 at 7:23 am #

    The best defense we have against DWP is all the negitive press it has been getting. The L.A. Times and The SierraWave have had several lately. The Inyo Register seems more fixed on the fruitcake festival and not hurting the local good old boys wallets .

    • Reality Check December 9, 2012 at 9:23 am #

      DWP could care less about the negative press. They have the power and they have the water. End of story. The negative press distracts the masses.

      • Trouble December 9, 2012 at 10:26 am #

        Reality- I disagree, the press is what helps form negative opinions and when it comes to Judges and juries they are far less likely approve of their strong arm actions. All we little people can really do is keep nipping at their heals until they fall.

        • Reality Bites December 11, 2012 at 9:38 am #

          Yeah right. Negative press has really worked great so far to force the to do the right thing(sic). DWP even ignores valid court decisions.

      • Big AL December 10, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

        Well I think they do care about negative press, or at least they should be, or will be …. when someone finally connect this to the world wide green movement. Those greenies we have out there should be telling the mother ship about the plight in the Owens Valley .. hehe

        Seriously though .. attention brought to bear on a broader basis .. will get the word out .

        • Far-right press out of control December 11, 2012 at 7:12 am #

          Negative press, Big Al? Do you mean far-right sources like Fox News? Or how about neocon guru, Rush Limbaugh? Your “greenie” remark has given you away Big Al. Limbaugh calls the environmentally conscious enviro-wackos. Thanks for supplying that fact. Situations don’t make the man – they reveal him.
          It’s the freaky fringe that has caused the GOP do distance itself from this angry type, if the GOP ever wants to win another election.

          • Tad Smidgens December 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

            I think he was talking about far righties like Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton, Dan Rather, Bill Maher, CBSNBCABCPBSCNN? You know- all that media. the the right controls.

          • Benett Kessler December 11, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

            Reallly? Far right?????

  7. Trouble December 8, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    Ya NewDay, do you have a cartoon attached to that statement?

  8. NewDay December 8, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    The new Inyo Board will put a stop to the DWP abuses!

    • Inyo Dude December 8, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

      Whatever you are somking, I want some!

  9. Caleb December 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    I’m shocked and sickened, Not only is LADWP screwing up there own land but now taking it into there own hand to screw up ours.


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