Citizens Stand Up for Trees in Face of Supervisorial Criticism

Inyo Supervisor Jim Bilyeu made it clear – he has a strong dislike for trees and Deodar Cedars in particular. His personal animosity over a tree removal issue in Independence seemed to over-shadow his constituents’ views, at the Supervisors’ meeting Tuesday, which unanimously asked for re-consideration of two cedars.

8 people stood up to ask that the apparently healthy, old trees be allowed to live while the County checks their condition and takes appropriate action – including simple trimming. No one had made a real assessment of the two trees.

Almost 2 1/2 years ago, the Supervisors okayed removal of the trees, which grow in the public right of way, after a limb fell on the fence of the adjacent homeowner. No mishaps have been reported in the past two years or more.

Would the Board re-consider? Resident Jennifer Duncan said the trees seemed to stand up well to recent, horrendous wind storms. With an angry voice, Supervisor Bilyeu demanded to know if she were an arborist. Duncan said, no, and asked if the county would review their tree removal policy to avoid “premature taking of living, beautiful trees.”

School Superintendent Joel Hampton urged caution and sensitivity to trees. Bilyeu challenged Hampton who stuck to his concerns.

Another resident, Nina Weissman asked if an arborist could look at the trees. She said the Civic Club has offered to help.

Supervisor Linda Arcularius pointed to the unpredictability of trees falling. Mary Roper presented a letter from the Civic Club which pointed to the future loss of 100 trees on the Caltrans road widening and the loss of dozens of trees during the Oak Fire.

Finally, Kirk Peterson of Independence brought up what he called the Supervisors’ “unprofessional” behavior. “You’re cross examining your constituents,” he said. Peterson said the trees give the town dignity and need better consideration before removal.

Arlene Grider also supported the trees. She said the town has lost many of them.

Bob Brown of the Road Department did say that more trees than normal have come down in Independence.

Supervisor Bilyeu saw nothing but threats and said he despises Deodar Cedars – “they’re ugly and dirty.”

The issue was delayed and will come back to the Board later.

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