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Pipeline Co. Tells Minn. Man His Trees Have To Go

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OAKDALE, Minn. (WCCO) — A Twin Cities family is watching 25 years of history disappear right before their eyes, and they’re sure not happy about it.

“I’ve been awake all night thinking about this.  It just bothers me,” said Jim Mitchell from his Oakdale yard.

He’s been told his 10 trees have to come down. They might be good for the environment, but they’re also good for life. They provide shade and tranquility for Jim, his wife and teenage daughter.

But the peacefulness they love is giving way to progress quickly right down the street.

“That chainsaw sound.  That doesn’t make me feel very good,” he said.

The trees sit on a pipeline that carries crude oil from Clearbrook, Minn., to the refinery in Rosemount. It’s a 260-mile journey through several counties.

The Minnesota Pipeline Company, which owns the line, is cutting down the trees throughout the neighborhood and workers are inching closer to Mitchell.

“I don’t even like to think what it’s going to look like without it,” he said.

His daughter, Holly, often reads under the trees in the summertime shade and she swims in the shade in their backyard pool. It’s about to change.

According to Jennifer Sweney, the spokesperson for Minnesota Pipeline Company, clearing the right-of-way is required by federal law.

“This is about safety. This is about public safety,” she said. “If there were a problem with the pipeline, it would be very difficult to see it or get to it if we had things rolling over our pipeline.”

Sweney also said tree roots present problems.

“Some of these trees could have very large root systems. They could wrap around the pipeline, get into the casing of the pipeline and cause damage to the pipeline. So that’s why we need to remove the trees,” she said.

Removing the trees is key, but not ideal to the family. One of the trees is highly personal to Holly and her family. Losing it means erasing the memories that go with it.

“This tree we planted when Holly was born to commemorate her birth,” Jim said. “It’ll be sad to see this one go.”

Sweney met with the family on Thursday night, and she and the family worked out some things.  According to the family, the company has decided only to cut down six trees and trim the others and is also considering planting more trees in other parts of the yard.

The family fought the removal best they can, but knows the view from their home will be dramatically different in just another week.

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