LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Southern California Edison will remove about 11,000 palm trees over the next two years to mitigate the risk of wildfires.
The work will begin next month, according to SCE, and is part of the utility's Wildfire Mitigation Plan 2021 update.
The removals will occur in Los Angeles County communities including Santa Clarita, La Canada Flintridge and Malibu, and also in Santa Ana, Simi Valley, Lake Elsinore and other cities.
The targeted trees are too close to power lines, and can cause power outages or fires due to falling palm fronds, according to the utility. The removal will include about 5,000 palms located in non-high fire risk areas if they are not at least 18 inches away from power lines.
SCE officials say it's better to remove the trees than trim them, which only stimulates growth.
Officials will notify property owners ahead of time to discuss the risk factors. A door hanger will also be posted 24 to 48 hours prior to any required work, except in cases of an imminent risk to public safety.
Home and property owners who plan to do their own tree trimming or removal are encouraged to call SCE before starting any work.
“We understand that people living in Southern California love their palms, but since fire season is year-round, they can be a danger to the public. We will inspect vegetation before it's removed and meet with the property owner in person to discuss the process,'' said David Faasua, SCE vegetation management senior specialist.
Palm trees are often used for nests by birds and squirrels, but the utility said precautions would be taken to protect the animals.
“In accordance with our environmental protocols, we have biologists that monitor the vegetation management work in environmentally sensitive areas. If a bird's nest is discovered, the biologist will stop the work and create a buffer around the nest and wait until the chicks have fledged,'' SCE spokesman Reggie Kumar told City News Service.
“During breeding season from February through August, bird species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act sometimes build nests in construction or maintenance areas. This can postpone this type of work for days to months because laws require non-critical work to halt until eggs hatch and fledglings leave the area.
“If a squirrel drey (nest) is present, our vegetation management crews will wait until the kittens (baby squirrels) are mature and will allow them to leave before performing the vegetation work,'' Kumar continued. “If an urgent situation requires the immediate removal of a palm or any other type of vegetation, then we would relocate the drey to a nearby tree. Our vegetation management crews also receive annual environmental awareness training to carefully check for wildlife while performing this type of work.''
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