TVA Goes Way Overboard In Its Vegetation Cutting

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Moving from the Nashville city scenery to a more rural area such as Ooltewah, we were so excited to move into a house that had a spectacular view of nature from our screened in back porch. This house was chosen due to its location by this Wildlife Management Area. We easily became accustomed to waking up in the morning and seeing deer in our back yard or seeing an occasional coyote or two. It has been quite peaceful and very relaxing from the fast paced city we moved from. 

In the last few weeks Tennessee Valley Authority has been clearing the area around their high voltage lines. They have turned our “pretty view” into a mud puddle riddled with tree limbs and logs that they state will be “left there to rot.” On top of the brush and trees that they have removed close to the 150 foot diameter from the center of the power lines, they also are stating that they have the right to remove trees on my property that may “pose” a future risk to the lines. Note that a worker from the contracting company, Trees Inc., stated that these trees will never reach the lines, yet they insist on cutting them down anyhow. 

What is worse than cutting down every tree in my backyard to expose a trench that looks like a tornado ripped thru? Well, to start is the fact that TVA will not plant any trees to replace what they are cutting down. They have stated they will go as far as removing the stumps of the trees they are eliminating on our property (they will leave everything to rot on the easement) but will not spend another dime to restore our property. TVA does not seem to care what our backyards look like, as long as they have “met” their contractual obligations to clear this area. 

We are even further puzzled at how TVA says that they have to remove certain trees in our yard for this “contractual obligation,” but yet their company with whom they are contracted with, Trees Inc., told us that these trees would never grow to a height that would be considered an actual risk. 

On top of this eye sore, residents tear this area up with ATVs and dirt bikes. After TVA or their sub-contractors have cleared the brush, these ATV and dirt bikes are now going beyond the established trails and into our yard or using our driveway (previously these ATVs were staying on the trail that was sectioned off from our property by the previously stated brush) which poses multiple problems including the safety of my children. Not only is this now a safety issue for our children but others as well. 

Without something to clearly distinguish what is our property and what is WMA, we could easily back out of our driveway on a family outing and not see one of these dirt bikes zoom by on our driveway and have a horrible collision. You would think that someone would step up and either replace the knocked down brush barrier with acceptable trees or even put up a fence to prevent a future catastrophe waiting to happen. 

John Mayer, theT WRA regional manager of this area, stated that, “The TWRA would give what help we can since we have an interest in how TVA manages their power line right of ways in the state of Tennessee as a whole.  I too, would like to see a TVA management plan that would include planting the ROW’s with some low growing native species that would control, erosion and the ATV’s and not grow so tall that would interfere with their transmission lines.” 

I hope that TVA and Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office will take the ownership of replacing these trees and maintaining regulations on these trails to ensure unauthorized vehicles keep off this property before an unfortunate event occurs. I am writing this in hopes that TVA will plant trees that can sustain life in the line zone (TVA has provided tree species that are allowed within 75 feet of the middle line) to make up for the 100’s of trees that they have plowed down. If they insist on cutting down our trees, including the ones that are used for the play house, then they could at least replace them with one of the acceptable tree species they have listed. 

Who wants to sit on their back porch and look at knocked down trees rotting in mud puddles and watching the wildlife trying to acclimate to this mess? We definitely would not have bought this property if we knew that TVA would destroy all its natural potential and leave it in utter chaos. Why buy a property that TVA is going to lower the property value of by destroying its natural beauty and leave you with a mess?  

John Kennedy 

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