For the past two summers the Town of Truckee has implemented a “vegetation management” project to remove all vegetation within 10 feet of the edge of pavement from our neighborhoods.
I strongly oppose to this strategy. Removing all vegetation by our roads 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 town justification 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 flames encroaching in the street do not occur with properly spaced, mature, limbed trees, and with high water content species like aspens.
There is a solution between cutting all trees, and leaving all trees, and it is not the current 24-inch diameter tree exemption. I know that ladder- and surface fuels must be removed, but a fuels specialist should determine where to thin mature tree stands and preserve trees, as is industry standard. In our implementation, ladder fuels outside the arbitrary 10-foot mark stay, while fire-resistant trees inside the mark have been removed, an unnecessary destruction of shade-providing, carbon sequestering, traffic-calming trees. Science-based decisions must bring actual fire resilience to our town.
With record high temperatures, wildfires, smoke impacts, and summer power outages, a blanket policy that removes the shade trees farthest from our homes is irrational. This decision makes life hotter, less accessible, and more dangerous for the next generation of Truckee residents. The town has knowingly destroyed existing, free, shade infrastructure. This is the hottest summer on record, but will also be the coolest summer of the future. Projects like this cannot continue. We must bring science, logic, climate and fire resilience to our policies. We can do better.