New 'Utility Tree Replacement Program' for Tucson - Tucson News Now

Tucson program will replace trees interfering with power lines

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Catclaw acacia is one of the replacements for removed trees in the program. (Source: Trees for Tucson) Catclaw acacia is one of the replacements for removed trees in the program. (Source: Trees for Tucson)
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A program involving the City of Tucson Department of Transportation and Tucson Electric Power will remove trees that grow up into overhead power lines and replace them.  This is in an effort to improve the city's street tree canopy, according to a City of Tucson release.

The old procedure was to simply cut the branches of the tree that was interfering with the power lines into either a directional or V-shape pattern, this reshapes the tree's canopy into an unnatural shape.  Instead of cutting tree limbs, TEP will begin removing trees that are growing into the power lines.  TDOT will then replace the removed tree with two shorter trees in the same spot or replanted in an area away from overhead power lines. 

According to the release the new trees will be screwbean mesquite, catclaw acacia or kidneywood trees.  They will be watered with irrigation lines already in place.  The hope is the new program will help reduce maintenance costs for TEP and improve the aesthetics and tree canopy of the city's landscape.

Developed by the City's Landscape Advisory Committee, TDOT, TEP, the City's Urban Landscape Manager as well as the staff of Trees for Tucson, the "Utility Tree Replacement Program" follows the national practice of the right tree in the right location.  The new program falls into line with Trees for Tucson's stance about an alternative to 'directional pruning' of trees that interfere with utility lines.

"The City of Tucson and Tucson Electric Power Company's decision to remove trees that can grow into power lines is long overdue," said Joan Lionetti, Executive Director of Tucson Clean and Beautiful, in the recent release. "Many of the trees planted were inappropriate species for planting under power lines.  Trees for Tucson feels strongly that appropriate placement, species and size of trees significantly contributes to the social, environmental and economic and health benefits of our community."

The first trees are scheduled to be removed by the middle of April. According to city officials the first year of the program will see 100 trees replanted. 

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