After a two-day stalemate between activists, property owners, and representatives from Pacific Gas and Electric, a Potter Valley Ponderosa pine tree containing a Bald Eagle’s nest will remain standing at least till August when the species’ mating season ends.
PG&E had identified the Ponderosa pine on Potter Valley’s Ridgeway Highway to be cut down after an analysis by their biologist and arborist because it threatened a nearby powerline. PG&E’s experts concluded the eagle nest within the pine to be inactive and the tree to be near death
PG&E Spokeswoman Deanna Contreras told us that their biologist had determined the nest was inactive based on the idea that an active nest requires eggs or hatchlings within it. After concluding there were no eggs or hatchlings, PG&E reached an agreement with the United States Fish and Wildlife to cut the pine tree before January 15, marking the official start of Bald Eagle mating season.
Activist and MendoFever contributor Keri Ann Bourne has been on site since the beginning of the controversy on Wednesday night when we published her call to action encouraging Mendocino County residents to contact their representative to protect the birds.
Bourne, along with a tenant of the property, sought the perspective of an independent arborist who disagreed with PG&E’s conclusion that the tree was dead, stating it had at least five years of life left.
Disagreeing with PG&E’s characterization of the nest as inactive, Bourne described speaking with multiple people on sight who witnessed an eagle gathering nest-making material indicating to them the nest was indeed active.
Bourne said while on-site, she watched PG&E initially insist on going forward with the felling of the tree. Today, the company’s approach shifted and PG&E chose to seek solutions that would protect the pine tree while mitigating fire risk.
Initially, PG&E had been communicating with the property owners regarding the falling of the tree but as the January 15 deadline crept closer and PG&E workers were deployed to the site, By the time PG&E employees arrived, Bourne told us the property owner had decided the Bald Eagles had to be protected.
Spokeswoman Contreras described possible solutions going forward including the rerouting of the powerlines or potentially having to shut off power to the location.
Contreras told us candidly that today’s dialogue was PG&E working to be transparent, open to community input, and build trust. “We have full-time environmentalists at PG&E for a reason. We don’t want to disturb any wildlife or habitat.”
Bourne said she felt like the recent standoff was a win for the Bald Eagles but expressed concern for their unsure future predicting concerned community members would have to advocate for their conservation in August 2022 when the mating season is formally over.