Environmentalists Upset Over Trees’ Removal

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The trees on the outskirts of Sutter’s Landing Park in Sacramento are gone, but the seeds of controversy have taken root.

Local environmentalists were on a mission to find out why some 50 trees — cottonwoods, mostly –were cut down earlier this month.

The answer, city officials say, can be found on a Google map image. If you look closely at the left-hand side, you’ll see what “was” a homeless camp.

“It’s a fairly drastic measure to cut all of the vegetation out of an area, native habitat,” one environmentalist said.

But the city’s solid waste division solidly defends its actions.

“In the area down there where the homeless people were camping you have equipment as part of the methane gas collection system,” the city’s Steve Harriman said.

The gas comes from the old landfill site — and with methane still in the air, one spark from, say a homeless campfire, and it could’ve gotten ugly in a hurry:

“It’s a highly flammable gas and it’s a very unsafe situation for people to be living there,” Harriman said.

What he calls unsafe — others call sad — as they worry about the possible effects on wildlife.

“I think we could’ve seen Swainson hawks come back to the area nesting,” the environmentalist said. “We could’ve seen owls nesting in there.”

The city tells CBS13 this wasn’t its call. After checking the methane levels, the state ordered the city to clear the trees hoping to clear the homeless.

It worked, but some are still calling it “kind of a drastic measure.”

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