By DAVID GREEN
Morenci’s tree-lined streets will soon have a different look when a Consumers Energy tree trimming project is completed.
The city has not been trimmed in many years, said Jon Hall, Consumers forestry communications director, and a lot of trees are overgrown. More than 2,000 trees are slated for trimming or removal.
Trees are the main cause of electrical outages, Hall said, and the goal of the trimming project is to reduce outages.
Many trees throughout the city were recently marked with blue paint—a dot for trimming and an “x” for removal—and some property owners also received a yellow card on their doorknob with additional details.
The yellow cards, Hall explained, were left when work is scheduled on property other than along the street right-of-way. For example, limbs may be making contact with a back yard wire providing service to a house.
“People are generally pleased to have trimming from service lines to avoid a power outage,” Hall said.
A yellow card could indicate the pruning of limbs—varying with the voltage of the line and the species of the tree—or it could point to “significant line clearing work.”
If a tree is marked for removal, an effort is made to talk to the property owner before the work is done.
“We really want to talk to people,” Hall said. “Our goal is no surprises.”
Trimming will vary depending on the size of the wire, the species of the tree and the location.
“The look of your property is going to change,” he said. “We are not landscapers. We are clearing trees that inappropriately grew into these wires, for the safety of the wires.”
Consumers trims to provide a minimum clearance of 10 feet for distribution wires and two feet for service drops to residences.
In some cases, nearly half of a tree will have to be removed. Property owners will be asked if they wish to have the entire tree removed in order to plant a new tree. The health of the tree is considered in the trimming process.
“Every tree we judge individually,” Hall said. “If there’s a really strong tree, very healthy, standing eight feet away from the line, it could very well stay there.”
Wright Tree Service will handle the trimming work in Morenci. Hall said that additional trimming could be arranged at the property owner’s expense.
Wright will chip the brush and remove it unless the property owner wants it. Larger limbs will be cut and left on the site. The property owner has first rights to the wood, Hall said, but he expects people with wood-burning stoves to ask for the wood if it’s not wanted.
Hall said the trimming is scheduled to begin in late April or early May. Reminder letters will be mailed to residents about two weeks in advance.
To avoid a visit by trimmers in the future, Hall gives this advice: Plant the right tree in the right location. Only low-growing trees should be planted under wires, he said, which is a concept endorsed by the National Arbor Foundation.