Yes to Pipeline Safety. No to Invasive Weeds.

By Lennie Roberts, Legislative Advocate

As part of its “Line 109 Gas Pipeline Replacement Project,” Pacific Gas & Electric is proposing to install a new 24-inch diameter gas transmission pipeline along 4.7 miles in the San Francisco Watershed. The proposal includes three segments generally between Edgewood Road and Black Mountain Road. Its purpose is to bring the pipeline up to current standards and to allow the use of in-line pipeline inspection tools. That’s all well and good. We strongly support ensuring pipeline safety for all our communities.

However, already completed Line 109 segments along I-280 in Menlo Park, Woodside, and Redwood City have had disastrous impacts on sensitive serpentine grasslands and other native habitats. Many denuded areas persist, inviting invasive weeds to get a foothold and then spread into adjacent habitats, some of which are protected areas.

Now the same problem is likely to recur along the proposed San Francisco Watershed segments, only on a much larger scale. The proposed construction zone will denude and disturb an 85-foot-wide swath along the pipeline route and will require the removal of 863 trees and many shrubs. Besides these direct impacts of construction, PG&E is also requiring that a 10-to 20-foot-wide swath along the pipeline be permanently free of trees and shrubs for the pipeline’s cathodic protection system (a system that uses electrical current to prevent corrosion). Instead of the mosaic of trees, shrubs, and grasslands that one sees today, this linear swath will be an open invitation for invasive weeds to establish themselves and spread into adjacent habitats.

This habitat fragmentation can be avoided–if PG&E commits to obtaining baseline information, creating an invasive weed control plan, and developing and implementing a restoration and monitoring plan in conjunction with agencies and organizations with habitat restoration expertise.

In order to achieve both pipeline safety and weed control, Committee for Green Foothills is urging the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, owner of the 23,000-acre watershed, and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which holds a Scenic and Recreation Easement there, to require PG&E to develop a comprehensive weed control and habitat restoration plan that fully restores all disturbed areas and provides for additional restoration as necessary to ensure long-term restoration success.

We are working to ensure that any proposed replacement of Line 109 within Edgewood Park and crystal springs watershed avoids all sensitive habitats, particularly the serpentine grasslands.

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