City council members seek answers in South Hill tree removal incident

KREM 2's Lindsay Nadrich reports on how a slew of trees were removed from the bluff on the South Hill in Spokane. (4-17-17)

SPOKANE, Wash. – Spokane City Council members Breean Beggs and Lori Kinnear are seeking answers after dozens of trees along the South Hill bluff were bulldozed by mistake.

A contractor bulldozed a road and removed the trees near the Qualchan Golf Course.

As of Friday evening, no involved party has taken responsibility for approving the removal of trees on the bluff.

The Parks Department and Avista confirmed that they never gave authorization to a logging company for destruction of the landscape and tree cutting.

However, the contractor who bulldozed the area said he was hired to do the work. The contractor’s attorney provided KREM 2 with copies of emails between all parties involved that talkd about removing trees from the area.

The City announced they will provide erosion control and begin planning for restoration. Both the City of Spokane and Avista confirmed that the new roadway will not be used as a road in the future.

Councilman Beggs recently visited the site.

“I am confident that the city will be able to recover full damages from the wrongdoers, but I still have questions on how the City will balance the interests of preserving natural areas for the public and considerations of expansion of the adjoining golf course,” said Beggs.

In a release Monday, Beggs and Kinnear expressed their frustration about the creation of the road and lack of oversight that led to the miscommunication.

"What we do have is a commitment from Avista, from the city that we're going to restore the area as quickly as possible because of Latah Creek and we don't want to see that damaged further," said Kinnear.

Avista issued a release late Monday, writing they plan to "take the lead to develop a proposal for remediation of the conservation land along the bluff."

"In the midst of this unfortunate misunderstanding, Avista’s focus is determining appropriate steps for remediation,” said Josh DiLuciano, Avista Director of Electrical Engineering, in the release.  “Avista recognizes there is a need to move quickly and we are willing to facilitate that process for the benefit of the community and protection of the conservation area.”

Kinnear said she is now working on a tree ordinance to prevent something like this from happening again in the future.

© 2017 KREM-TV


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