Current Events: The Great Redwood Tree Massacre of 2018

Two PG&E contractors cut down these redwoods next door to our house up at the end of Redwood Road—supposedly to clear the power lines—but it’s a travesty, and probably not their only butchering around here. I was at work while it was done, and my wife and I thought they were trimming back limbs of oaks and bay trees, trees that actually fall on wires. But, no, over about four days, they cut down this large stand of redwoods that were not even truly damaged by the fires. They were blackened, but not mortally wounded. (About a tenth of the trees cut on this site were Douglas fir and some are in these images.)

Can’t think of a witty caption for this image.
Or this one.
Look at that fire damage: it’s almost 1/4-inch thick!
I wish I had a “before” image of this scene, as you could not see the distant view was there at all. You had no idea what was behind the wall of redwoods.

Below is a quick video of the scene.

I feel bad being angry about this: it’s sort of a “first-world problem” among Wine Country Fire problems. But the coastal redwood, along with the giant sequoia, is the state tree, and these were just destroyed.

These young redwood trees are really strong; they don’t fall over. They are teenager-trees, only 150 years old, growing back from logging here from around 1870-1900, many of them sprouted from the stumps of the logged, old growth trees. Some redwoods have been cut down ostensibly because that long-dead mother trunk burned out and threatened the structure of the ones around it. But in this case, at least, there is no mother tree stump in sight.

Fortunately, if there can be a fortunately, there are still a good many of them, and also fortunately the Archer Taylor Preserve exists to protect more, but this canyon is just not that big anyway. This PG&E work was all just unnecessary and a giant screw-up.

And, now, in addition…

Tree harvesting companies have come in and cut down neighborhood redwood trees—also not dead—on private property with permission of the property owner. The companies usually do it for free and then sell the logs to mills, so it usually does not cost the property owner anything.

I feel sorry for those owners who thought the trees were dead (or were told they were) when they realize the trees they enjoyed for years from their house were still alive when they were cut. Maybe they just didn’t want to look at black trees while the bark grew over the burn. But the thing is, the bark is hardly burned on many of them, just like the ones PG&E cut down.


A few years ago, a guy in Larkspur who lived among trees like this, was fined $25,000 when he cut one down without a permit (to get his sports car out of his driveway (?!?)).

I’m sure both these jobs were “permitted” in their generalities: the PG&E job to protect lines and the private one to remove “hazardous” trees. But they were wrong in the particulars. Neither was needed, nor should have gotten permits. It’s the kind of thing that gets lost in the “fog of war,” or, in this case, in the smoke of a huge disaster.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Chris says:

    I agree completely. We came back from the fire and food three of our 100+ year old trees fallen! We have no idea who did this!


  2. tonytomeo says:

    I could not get a permit to harvest trees on my property, (which I would not have done anyway), but PG&E took trees that I could not have sold.


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