Fierce Storms Heat Up National Dialogue on Trees and Power Lines

Washington, DC (August 2012) – Increasing and intense weather events, coupled with unrelenting heat, are creating a tangled mess on some urban streets—downed power lines, felled trees, and unhappy residents. Cities up and down the East Coast and elsewhere are finding that lack of urban forest management plans or ongoing tree-trimming and care of dying and diseased trees can make it tough to keep power lines up and streets clear when disasters strike. Here’s a rundown on the latest dialogue about how to balance the economic and environmental benefits of urban trees with delivering energy to city resident.

Washington, DC (July 17, 2012) American Forest blogger Melinda Housholder describes the pain of a recent derecho that left trees uprooted in front yards, huge limbs crushing parked cars, and trees ominously leaning on people’s houses. While urban forests can sometimes be a liability, they are also a critical natural resource in an urban environment. Housholder suggest ways to manage or limit the damage trees may cause with tips from the University of Florida and DC-based tree-planting nonprofit Casey Trees, which has created a “storm kit.” More

Cambridge, MA (August 7, 2012) – In “Trees vs. Power Lines: Will We Have to Choose?” the author argues on the side of sparing the trees for their long-term value to sequester carbon and offset energy use. But he describes in detail the dilemma that is being played out in many cities trying to solve both the long-term and short-term problems that volatile weather stirs up, pitting the power grid against the urban forest. More

Baltimore, MD (July 24, 2012) – A Baltimore Sun op-ed argues that we can’t continue to have power companies cutting down trees and cities continuing to plant them, setting energy and the environment at odds. “Trees are a major, natural, energy-efficient filter of stormwater pollutants. And existing, healthy, big trees do this for free.” The author suggest there is a better way, including putting wires underground, tracking and replacing trees that are taken down, and decentralizing energy sources. More

Related Resources:

The battle of power lines and the urban forest
Dead trees pose risk in natural disasters
Power Restored, But Diseased, Dying and Dead Trees Continue to Pose Threat to Electrical Service Says Dayton Power & Light
Casey Trees