Inyo Supervisors face more tree issues

By Deb Murphy

Seven Independence liquid ambers are looking at an uncertain future as the Inyo Supervisors discussed, then postponed, action on whether the trees, all planted in County rights-of-way, stay, or go.

Doomed liquid amber in front of the County Water Department office on Jackson.

All seven were deemed inappropriate for their location, according to arborist Rochelle Hair with Eastern Sierra Tree Service. The Indy Seven are over-sized, messy and intrusive, much like a Labrador puppy. But Independence residents love their mature trees, putting Public Works and the Supervisors in a bind.

Based on a number of save-the-tree e-mails sent to Board members, Supervisor Jeff Griffiths asked for a one week stay of execution to give the senders of those e-mails a chance to state their case at the next meeting.

Public Works Deputy Director Chris Cash is in the process of revising the County’s tree policy, which will guarantee inappropriate choices won’t happen in the future. The arborist’s report included a long list of much better behaved trees that Cash indicated will be included in the final policy.

Trip hazard from tree on Jackson?

The first tree on the hit list was a volunteer hovering over a water main in Laws. That was a no-brainer – off with its head.

The first of the liquid ambers, planted between sidewalk and curb, is lifting the sidewalk and dropping its limbs on parked cars in front of the County Water Department on Jackson. Cash said the Road Department had fixed the sidewalk issue three years ago, but now it was back. According to the arborist, there was no good fix for tree.

The other six were on at the corner of Main and Webster streets. Two may get a short reprieve with aggressive pruning of limbs encroaching on electrical wires. Three are causing extensive damage to a block wall with root systems that are encroaching on a patio beyond the block wall. The fourth’s root system is wrapping around itself and though the arborist suggested removal within the next 10 years, the liquid amber is in danger of getting leveled in a wind storm.

Supervisor Mark Tillemans wanted to wait to sentence those six until Cash and Public Works had a chance to finalize the new tree policy, but that may take another year. So, the final decision on the Indy Seven will be on next Tuesday’s agenda.

There was discussion of the City of Bishop’s tree policy which puts responsibility for City-planted trees on the owner of the home adjacent to the City’s right-of-way.


From Binsey Poplars

By Gerard Manley Hopkins

O if we but knew what we do
When we delve or hew –
Hack and rack the growing green!

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8 Responses to Inyo Supervisors face more tree issues

  1. Joann lijek August 13, 2019 at 1:29 pm #

    The county should get a few more opinions from licensed arborists, or maybe their own botanists at the water department, or both. Its a shame to cut down mature trees. Roots can be pruned, perhaps the trees aren’t getting sufficient water at the root zone, why they are spreading and breaking stuff. But like I said, roots can be pruned, as can branches, so why are branches falling on cars? Trees need to be managed properly, not destroyed. We need the shade around here.

  2. Mr. Thompson August 11, 2019 at 4:05 pm #

    Goodbye Mr. Cash,

    It is clear that you’re bringing entirely too much exposure to this Board and the Administration, and it will be time for you to go.
    I watched the video, and from what I saw, you were presenting some items to the Board by the request of a private citizen and a County Department, with no prejudice one way or another, but alas, it is your name and the Public Works Department that are being vilified here, and it is about the trees, and not (as it should be) the property owner rights or wishes.
    I also heard that you acknowledged that perhaps some of the pruning in Independence was aggressive and were working on some training opportunities for your crews. But clearly they shouldn’t have been allowed to do such an aggressive trimming in the first place, I say this only half in jest, I wasn’t there to see how much pruning was warranted. I bet you were not there also, but your name is out there, and as the supervisor you will take the fall.
    You are the same person that is trying to ram a water rate increase to the good citizens of Independence and Lone Pine, shame on you! The Department of Water and Power caused this mess, and with a little forethought, and some swift and well thought out legal action, DWP would be picking up this increase.
    I don’t know if it will be due to ‘other opportunities’, ‘health issues’, ‘early retirement to spend more time with your family’ (I believe that is the one Mr. Carunicho used), or just that it is ‘Time’, but you will be quietly asked to leave, and will do so graciously. But the truth is that this will be to cover or protect those that are responsible, but rarely held accountable, and cover for poor planning and inaction of policies and direction, this is politics.

    Goodbye Mr. Cash, your career has just ended through activism…

  3. Charles O. Jones August 9, 2019 at 5:35 pm #

    “The Indy Seven are over-sized, messy and intrusive, much like a Labrador puppy.”

    I love Labrador puppies, and trees.

    • Philip Anaya August 10, 2019 at 6:13 am #

      I too love puppies and trees and a Board of Supervisors who are accessible and who listen to the concerns and issues big and small that we bring to them.

  4. Brunnhilde August 9, 2019 at 9:00 am #

    Excellent points, Anachronism. How many people remember the Owens Valley before 1970 when pumping started? Lone Pine and Independence were much greener. Bishop has a high water table because the Bishop are is protected from pumping by the Hillside Decree.
    Tall trees in a treeless land provide all kinds of benefits, not only to the human inhabitants, but to large nesting birds. Anyone seen a hawk nest in a Crape Myrtle, one of the suggested replacement tree/shrubs? Like it or not, the towns of the Owens Valley provide habitat for lots of species, especially as the native trees die off from over pumping. The irony is that the tree proposed to be killed is in front of the Inyo County Water Department! And the sidewalk in question goes nowhere, so removing the sidewalk makes sense from both a maintenance and tree point of view.
    The article above needs correcting -the arborist did not say that the trees are damaging the wall of the homeowner – but that they might damage the wall. Big difference there! Especially when it comes down to life or death. And the wall has been in that condition for many years.
    And, just to correct the record, many local governments have Tree Ordinances and Tree Commissions because they recognize the value of trees to their communities. These policies are written to protect the trees, especially the large trees that take 50 years to reach maturity. We can always adjust the built landscape, but most of us will be dead before a tree planted today is useful to an owl or hawk.

  5. The Lorax August 9, 2019 at 8:27 am #

    Inyo County needs a tree policy that includes all new buildings, parking lots and sidewalks should have *appropriate* trees planted! Do you see how people huddle under trees in Inyo County in the summer. If the County cuts these down they should HAVE to replace them. Trees make communities nice to walk around in, prettier, and cooler in the summer!

  6. Anachronism August 9, 2019 at 7:33 am #

    Are you kidding me? Leave the decision with Public Works with no input from the citizens? We need a Tree Policy. We have needed one for years. Our towns in the southern part of the Owens Valley have suffered massive tree death since the LADWP started pumping the water table to fill the second barrel of the aqueduct. The tree roots used to be able to reach the water table — at 6 to 8 feet below the surface. Now the water table is below 60 feet. Trees have value — for shade, for property value enhancement, for cooling in the summer and just for their beauty. Did you even bother to read the arborist’s report? Take a look at the “amputees” on Rosedale in Independence to see what Public Works considers pruning. Improper pruning causes more tree deaths. We are likely to lose that historic row of Sycamores because of what the Public Works crew did this year during the nesting season. You should darned well believe you are reading this in the news!

  7. John August 8, 2019 at 7:05 pm #

    Only in Inyo County would this go to the Board. Don’t they have more pressing matters at hand? Public Works staff should be empowered to make the decision that these trees are causing problems and cut them down. I can’t believe I’m reading this in the news.


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