TVA clear-cutting policy levels memorial trees - WSMV Channel 4

TVA clear-cutting policy levels memorial trees

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LEBANON, TN (WSMV) -

A memorial to a Middle Tennessee philanthropist has been destroyed by a federal agency.

The Tennessee Valley Authority cut down 49 Bradford pear trees in a memorial grove as part of its policy to clear-cut trees near its power lines, and the honoree's family is distraught.

Jim Floyd was the king of the traveling amusement park. But while he was on the road more than half of the year, he never forgot Lebanon. He was generous and giving, so when he died unexpectedly, his family planted the 49 trees as a way to remember Floyd every time they drove to work.

"This was something we could see every day that reminds us of him," said property owner Jennifer Floyd Smith.

For 12 years the trees were fine, but now they are among the thousands of trees across Tennessee subject to the TVA policy. Any tree that has the potential to grow to 15 feet, even if it is located 70 feet from TVA lines, is potentially on the chopping block.

Nobody can do a thing about it, even Tennessee's congressmen. U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, said the TVA is entirely independent, and while his office has received lots of calls about the policy, Congress has no authority over the TVA.

In a statement, a representative for U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said:

"We've been talking with our constituents and with TVA, and we understand both sides. Homeowners want to protect the value and privacy of their homes, and TVA has a responsibility to ensure that while providing reliable power, they protect the safety of citizens. Regardless, citizens affected by this policy deserve to be kept appropriately informed about what's occurring, and if they feel like they are not, we'd like to hear from them."

And U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said he is forwarding all complaints directly to the TVA.

The policy means some 16,000 miles of trees will be clear-cut, all because of something that happened in 2003 hundreds of miles from Middle Tennessee.

"A blackout affected the Northeast, and 50 million people were without power all because of one tree in Ohio," said TVA spokesman Scott Brooks, in a previous Channel 4 interview.

That's while people, just like the Floyd family, see just what it looks like to own land near a TVA power line.

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