Community fights to keep trees from being trimmed

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by SHELTON GREEN / KVUE News and Photojournalist DATHAN HULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @SheltonG_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on March 5, 2013 at 11:17 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 6 at 9:15 AM

AUSTIN – Members of Austin’s Gracywoods Neighborhood are fighting to save live oak trees in an area park from trimming or removal.

The area involves trees in the North Star Greenbelt, a 100 acre easement owned by Austin Energy. The area is also a place where residents jog, run and bike on a greenbelt through a park.

Austin Energy says the trees have to be trimmed every four years because they hang underneath transmission lines which carry power to the majority of the area.
 
They told KVUE on Wednesday that they don't know if or when they will cut trees in the area.
 
Bill Glass, a Gracywoods resident, told KVUE he’s worried about the long term affects of the trees being trimmed every four years by the City. Glass said he would like to see Austin Energy dole out more than the estimated $400,000 it would cost to raise the transmission lines tower, which was built in the 60s.
 
“These trees are our only shade on a large part of the greenbelt. If we lose the shade, if we lose the habitat, the neighborhood would be impacted by not having the park space,” said Glass, who claimed that tree trimmers take 70 percent of the canopy away when they trim.
 
Austin Energy says raising the power lines is not economically feasible.
 
“There are 2,300 miles along which we have to trim trees to keep the electric system in good shape and it would be hundreds of millions of dollars to raise the lines in all of the neighborhoods that would ask us to do that,” said Ed Clark with Austin Energy.
 
Glass says he expects protestors to be out if and when AE crews decide to trim the trees.
 
“I think the last time they trimmed there were a lot of tree huggers out here and I suspect when they come to trim this time they'll be some protest made,” said Glass.
 
The Gracywoods Neighborhood has called on the Urban Forestry Commission and the Austin City Council for help.

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