Yukon, Piedmont Residents Upset At OG&E Cutting Down Trees

Thursday, February 28th 2013, 8:08 pm
By: News 9

OG&E workers are always actively trimming trees to keep them out of power lines. So many residents of Yukon and Piedmont didn't think much of it when crews started cutting trees near their neighborhood Wednesday.

That is until they saw the trees were being cut all the way down to the stump.

Michael Page is a New York native, who says a secluded backyard filled with trees is what first attracted his family to his Sundance home in Yukon nine years ago.

"Green trees are a commodity," Page said. "You want trees, especially naturally grown in your area."

Residents are used to the normal tree trimming by OG&E to keep limbs out of the power lines, but they weren't expecting this.

Over the last few days, residents in the Sundance and Surrey Hills neighborhoods saw nearly all the trees surrounding their homes on Hefner Road, in between Sara Road and Mustang Road, chopped down to the stump.

"I didn't think much about it because they are always back there trimming," Page says. "But now when you look back there, you see they are really clearing this thing out."

Page's backyard view by his pool now is just stumps along Hefner Road.

"I could never see the street from my yard before, and now, it's like everything's stripped down," he says. "Oh boy, we really lost our sound barrier. We've lost our little privacy."

Valerie Boudreax also lives in Yukon and was shocked to see the stumps. She was so upset that she tried to get the tree cutters contracted by OG&E to stop, and police officers showed up and said they would arrest her if she didn't move.

"I thought what they were doing was unreasonable, cutting the trees to the ground and leaving a bare spot. That's an eyesore that takes away from the beauty of the neighborhood and takes away from the wildlife habitat," Boudreaux said. "People move out here because it's a semi-rural area. We enjoy the trees."

Boudreax complained to OG&E and was upset that residents weren't informed that their trees would be chopped down instead of trimmed.

OG&E spokesperson Kathleen O'Shea says OG&E did try to tell property owners and landlords that the trees were coming down, and she says most of the people OG&E contacted were fine with letting the trees go.

"You can have tree limbs fall on lines, knock lines down or can just open a circuit or even spark a fire," O'Shea says. "We can keep going back and trimming them back, but at some point, it just becomes more cost effective to cut them down."

OG&E has a county permit to cut down the trees. O'Shea says many of the trees were hackberry and elms and grew really fast and were unlike a landscape tree.

"It's not like it was on someone's property. It was on county area. We're not doing anything illegal," O'Shea says. "We're just doing something that customers will appreciate the next time we have an ice storm or really bad, high winds and they won't have tree limbs on the lines."

But Page says it just doesn't seem fair that his once green backyard is now gone for good. He says his family will probably plant their own trees in their yard to try to replace the privacy they used to have.

"It's a sad deal," he says. "We understand that they want to keep the trees away from the power lines, but at the same time, now, they're hurting the beauty of the backyard."

The tree cutters with the Davey company, contracted by OG&E said they were just doing what they were told and plan to finish cutting the trees on Hefner Road in a couple days.