Ballard locals have been angered by tree clearing carried out by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) in Salmon Bay natural area. Trees have been removed by BNSF near the railroad bridge west of Ballard locks, along the Burke-Gilman Trail.
BNSF crews are reportedly clearing a significant number of trees from the west end of the Salmon Bay natural area. My Ballard readers have emailed us expressing their outrage about the clear cutting. “Community volunteers who have worked on this project for years with Seattle Public Utilities were not informed of the work,” wrote reader Dave Boyd.
According to KOMO News, BNSF representative Gus Melonas stated that the project, which started last week, is in response to safety concerns. “With both freight and passenger trains moving through the area, Melonas said BNSF needs the extra visibility for important communication functions.”
City of Seattle officials report that BNSF could be fined up to $500 per day for cutting trees without the proper permit. “They have not obtained any sort of approval from our department. It appears they may have done that with the state at the state level, but have not done that locally with the city of Seattle. So that should have been done,” said Bryan Stevens with the Seattle Planning and Development Department.
According to the KOMO News article, Melonas stated that his crews are working only on BNSF land and they have a permit to remove the trees.
Stevens still firmly believes that BNSF need to gain permission from the City of Seattle and need to provide a reason why the trees need to be removed.
The matter is now under investigation by the the Seattle Planning and Development Department.
We will keep readers informed about developments in the investigation.
Thanks to My Ballard reader Dave Boyd for the tip and for the photo.