By Lennie Roberts
Edgewood Park’s serpentine grasslands support spectacular spring wildflower displays and are habitat for seven species protected under federal and state law, including the Bay checkerspot butterfly and the San Mateo thornmint, a small plant found only at Edgewood.
PG&E is proposing to install a new 24” gas pipeline to upgrade a non-standard 22” pipe, which dates from the 1930’s. Line 109’s replacement would require digging a deep trench from Sunset Way in Emerald Hills across Edgewood’s main serpentine grassland, then crossing under I-280 and a small section of “the triangle” on San Francisco Watershed land to reach Edgewood Road.
An 80-foot wide work area would not only disturb protected habitat but would also require closure of the park’s Serpentine Trail for months. Longer-term concerns include the significant potential for introduction and spread of invasive weeds, setting back a 25-year program of habitat restoration by Edgewood’s dedicated volunteers.
There are better alternatives to this massive disruption of Edgewood’s sensitive habitats. There is also precedent for re-routing utilities to protect scenic, recreational, and environmental values.
Back in 2003, PG&E proposed a new 230 kV transmission line cutting through Edgewood Park and the San Francisco Watershed lands. CGF, Friends of Edgewood and the California Native Plant Society called for undergrounding the new lines under Cañada Road and Skyline Boulevard. Ultimately PG&E agreed to the alternative route, thus sparing Edgewood and the Watershed from significant impacts.
The same groups are again urging PG&E to select an alternative route for the gas pipeline so the goals of both safety and environmental protection can be achieved.