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If Too Many Trees Fall In A Forest Citizens Worry It Will Make A Sound

Pine Trees in a Forest
Lars Hammar
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Tallahassee officials want to install a new transmission line to connect three energy substations. They say that will help ensure growing areas of Tallahassee get the power they need. But the proposal is getting pushback from citizens who worry building the line means cutting down trees that are protecting their homes from highway noise.

City utility officials say they’ll likely have to remove many trees within 40-feet of the rights-away along I-10 where the transmission line will be installed. Right now, the area is mostly pine, but Tallahassee Electric Utility General Manager, Rob McGarrah says they’ll replace those with other vegetation picked to even better reduce road noise.

"Working with our foresters we’ve identified a number of species of trees and hedges that are lower canopies and broader canopies," McGarrah says.

But citizens point out it takes time for plants to grow and worry it will take years for the new plantings to work as a noise barriers. Lorinne Myatt lives in a nearby neighborhood.

"The environmental impact study that was done claims there will only be a minimal 1-to2-decible level increase and I find that highly dubious," Mayatt says. "They stated that would not be noticed by humans. We notice the traffic on a daily basis. We notice when the highway is wet because it’s louder. We notice the difference between the winter and summer because of the change in the foliage."

Still, the city commission okayed a plan Wednesday that would let the utility use money it would otherwise pay  into a “tree bank” for cutting down trees to plant trees in citizen’s yards instead. They say it will further improve the buffer. McGarrah says utility officials will meet with each adjacent homeowner once a plan is in place.  

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Regan McCarthy is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media. Before coming to Tallahassee, Regan graduated with honors from Indiana University’s Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. She worked for several years for NPR member station WFIU in Bloomington, Ind., where she covered local and state government and produced feature and community stories.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

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