Omaha homeowner working to stop tree cutting in easement area
OPPD says it needs to cut 20 trees in his front yard alone.
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - OPPD told 6 News two weeks ago that clearing its easement will make it easier to replace the power line and towers, plus provide future maintenance.
“Having a clear corridor makes it a lot safer for the operations, makes it safe for our crews as we go out. And if something does happen, there’s less likelihood a tree would hit a power line,” said Jake Farrell with OPPD.
While many trees have already been cut and removed from backyards, Jon Bucklin says his house will lose curb appeal.
“Mine is different because it’s the front, but it’s 20 trees, a lot of habitat lost, a lot of mature trees lost,” Bucklin said.
Ironically, he says the county assessor just raised his property values by $200,000, but he asks how that can stand when trees won’t be in the front yard.
“[It’s] way worse than anybody in the neighborhood,” Bucklin said.
With so much at stake, Bucklin demands more stakes be planted by OPPD to better define the easement lines. He also plans to meet with a lawyer about the feasibility and affordability of an injunction.
“I’m trying to slow them down at the very least so we can talk about it,” Bucklin said.
Also in the OPPD easement is a tree fort Bucklin built for his three boys.
“I’m a structural engineer, so I better have done it right,” Bucklin said.
Designed, he says, to be as one with the tree.
“When the tree moves in the wind, so does the fort.”
He’s also trying to sway an OPPD decision.
That fort isn’t growing, but the tree it’s wrapped around is considered a hazard to high-voltage power lines, so it’s probable it will be cut off rather low -- leaving a tree house without much of a tree.
Like many of his neighbors, Jon Bucklin understands OPPD has the power to clear an easement 50 feet either side of the line.
“Diagonally it couldn’t have hit me more perfect, as far as trees lost,” Bucklin said.
He says exploring potential legal action will fortify his demand for more proof why so many trees have to be cut down.
OPPD project managers met with the Bucklins on Tuesday, and said it better understands the Bucklins’ inquiries and concerns. OPPD promises to listen and work with all impacted customers, and says it would never remove trees unless there are no other viable options.
FULL STATEMENT FROM OPPD
“We’re grateful for the opportunity to meet with the Bucklins this morning and to work with them firsthand. We better understand their questions and concerns and we look forward to continuing to work together on this project.
We understand the important aesthetic, environmental and emotional value that trees provide. We would never remove trees unless there were no other viable options. Unfortunately, as part of this transmission upgrade project, we must remove trees within the transmission easement for the safety of our customers and employees, as well as for the reliability of the electric system. We will continue to listen to and work with all impacted customers.”
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