$20K fine for alleged illegal tree removal

Kevin MacMillan

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is recommending a $20,000 fine be imposed against two people believed to be responsible for illegally cutting down five trees to improve a view of Lake Tahoe.

According to TRPA documents, Tanner Tingey, a second-homeowner in Carnelian Bay, and Trent Udlock, of Tahoe City-based Udlock Landscape Construction, worked together to remove five trees larger than 14 inches in diameter last summer on a property on Ridgewood Drive in Carnelian Bay that is located in proximity to Lake Tahoe. Tingey owns the neighboring upland property immediately adjacent to the Ridgewood property, on Huckleberry Lane.

According to TRPA, the Ridgewood property owners granted Tingey permission to perform defensible space work after Tingey explained to them he was concerned with possible fire danger to their property, located on the hillside directly below his. Thus, he was willing to pay for part of the work and take the lead on hiring necessary contractors. Tingey subsequently contracted with Udlock to perform fuels reduction work.

Later in August 2011, the California Tahoe Conservancy contacted TRPA to report the trees had been removed. In October, TRPA and CTC personnel determined the tree removal was not necessary for defensible space purposes.

Staff is recommending the governing board approve the $20,000 fine during the consent calendar portion of Wednesday’s meeting, along with a mandate that appropriate defensible space work be performed soon on the Ridgewood property.

“They’ve agreed to pay the fine,” said TRPA Spokeswoman Kristi Boosman on Tuesday.

According to the recommendation, Udlock said he removed the trees because they had been marked with yellow paint and he thought they were supposed to be removed for defensible space purposes.

California Tahoe Conservancy officials have stated they did not mark any trees on the Ridgewood property with yellow paint.

“Furthermore, upon inspection of the markings, TRPA and CTC staff believed that the yellow paint used to mark the … trees … was not the same type of paint used by the CTC to mark trees for removal. Tingey and Udlock have both stated that neither one of them marked the trees on the (Ridgeline) property with yellow paint.”

Phone messages to the attorneys for both Tingey and Udlock were not returned for this story. A message left with Tingey’s family at their home in Fresno, Calif., was not returned.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.