ST. LOUIS COUNTY - One reason Ameren is giving for its plan to cut down a dozen decades-old trees in a Des Peres neighborhood is that the plan fights off the threat of terrorism.
The trees surround an Ameren transmission tower in the Dougherty Ridge neighborhood to make it a little easier on the eyes for neighbors. But Ameren says they could also shield a terrorist trying to unscrew some of the bolts or sabotage the tower in some way.
The neighbors aren't buying it. There are 12 pines slated for a chain saw. They're along Winding Trail Lane and in Hope Redmond's yard.
"We have a lot of trees to look at instead of an unsightly electric tower," said Redmond.
Redmond and her neighbors would like to keep them. But Ameren, citing federal guidelines and the need to keep vegetation away from power lines to keep electricity flowing, says clear-cutting the area is best.
There's also the terrorism threat.
"Even if the trees stay and somebody was doing something to the base of this tower, I mean as you can see, you could see," said another neighbor, Keith Weldon.
He and other see sabotage as smoke and mirrors for what protesting neighbors think is the real reason.
"They appear to be taking the federal guidelines as an excuse to maybe save money on tree trimming," said Redmond.
Ameren denies the claim, stating the company has spent millions of dollars on tree trimming and removal that it claims in recent years has improved service reliability by nearly 50 percent.
Meanwhile, Redmond worries the battle taking place in her yard is making its way across the area.
"People need to know that this is Ameren's policy and they're going to be coming all down the wires," she said.
An Arkansas man was indicted on terrorism charges for tampering with electricity towers.
The mayor of Des Peres has been involved in trying to save the trees. The neighbors believe a proposed date to cut them down has been postponed while talks continue.