I am looking forward to the days when I can see green grass and leaves back on the trees again. This winter hasn’t been the worst, but I’m ready for warmer weather. This time of year brings out the chain saws and chippers at many utilities so that you can do your line clearance tree trimming.
The fall and winter seem to be a good choice due to lower temperatures and no leaves to grind or pick up. No matter what time of year, the customer challenges still remain. IAMU invited Tivon Feeley, Forest Health Program Leader for the Iowa DNR to speak at our Superintendent and Foreman Workshop last month. He touched on several topics that affect cities and utilities when they perform trimming and removal of trees.
Tivon did a great job explaining tree health issues and how to identify some of the most common warning signs of disease and damage. It is much easier to communicate to the customer that the tree is infested and needs to be removed when you have all of the information about the problem and can prove it. I have been accused of “butchering “a customer’s tree in the past and know what fun that is. The fact remained that whoever planted the tree didn’t plant it in the correct place and we as city or utility officials didn’t set or enforce policies to prevent it from being planted.
Have a policy in place for vegetation in your city or service territory. Save the argument that begins when a healthy tree is theirs until it turns sick and it becomes ours. There have been fights, tears, threats of physical harm, and property damage caused by tree trimming or removal. These will continue, but you can do your best to prevent these things from happening with some type of educational outreach to customers and residents.
Utilities have added information to billing notices or their website regarding tree placement, proper trimming practices and choosing the correct species of tree. Send representatives to civic group meetings, home shows, council meetings, and other events to get the message out to others. School visits can also be a very good method of delivery. Children can reinforce your message by passing it on to their parents.
The best piece of information that I took from Tivon was that you need to have a policy in place and you need the proper tools to enforce it. Inform your customers and train your employees to deliver the correct information in the right manner. To learn more about forest health issues and the emerald ash bore CLICK HERE.