Watch CBS News

Grove of historic oak trees in Folsom could be chopped down for new light rail tracks

Historic Folsom trees could be chopped down for light rail project
Historic Folsom trees could be chopped down for light rail project 02:18

FOLSOM — An engineering mistake on a light rail project is causing concern for nature lovers in Folsom.

Tuesday night, the city council is being asked to approve chopping down more historic trees near the tracks.

The particular grove of oak trees has been around Folsom for generations. Barbara Leary with Friends of Folsom Parkways said that most of them are 100 to 300 years old.

They're part of a scenic parkway that runs along Folsom Boulevard toward the historic downtown district. But now, Sacramento Regional Transit (SacRT) said that nearly two dozen of the trees need to be chopped down.

Leary said the oaks are protected under the city's landmark tree ordinance. That law prevents removing trees like these that have historic and ecological value—unless the city council approves an exception.

"I think that existing residents who are used to seeing this as the entrance to the city for as long as they've lived here are going to be very disappointed and very angry," Leary said.

SacRT says the trees need to be removed to make way for an additional light rail track that is currently being installed to add more trains.

"We want to be able to provide 15-minute service frequency for all of those Folsom-area light rail stations," said Jessica Gonzalez, a spokesperson for SacRT.

Originally, SacRT told the city that only five trees needed to be cut down, but that number has now been increased to 22. Others will be pruned and may not survive.

The City of Folsom said SacRT did not do a proper survey and mapping before they started construction.

"We did have to work on a realignment with the track a bit, and once our contractor did that, we noticed that additional trees needed to be removed," Gonzalez said.

SacRT will be required to pay for replanting new trees, but parkway advocates say that it will take decades before the new ones will provide this much shade and beauty.

"There's no way to replace 100-year-old trees," Leary said.

Gonzalez said the light rail project is running behind schedule and is now set to open in October. The City of Folsom said that even more impacts on landmark trees could emerge as the project progresses.

"It's heartbreaking that this happened and it was a result of a miscalculation in the alignment of this line," Leary said.  

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.