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Trees

Tampa Bay residents ask_ What did they do to that lovely tree_

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Pam McCoy and husband Ben constructed their household’s home on the identical property in South Tampa the place her childhood dwelling as soon as stood. They took pains to work across the huge, sprawling oak on the lot, which had been exterior her bed room window when she was rising up.

Final Valentine’s Day, McCoy got here dwelling to seek out the shady branches topping her tree cut up into a large V, the work of tree trimmers aiming to maintain limbs away from energy strains.

“I drove up,” she stated. “And I began crying.”

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Yearly, the massive vans come trundling via neighborhoods from St. Petersburg’s Previous Southeast to Hyde Park in Tampa, there to trim again timber that would down energy strains.

The outcomes, seen in communities throughout Tampa Bay, will be dramatic: a large hole the place leafy limbs as soon as had been, and a jarring sight to some in a spot recognized for its tree cover.

“I consider that the tree trimming across the electrical strains have to be completed — my downside with it’s the way it’s completed,” stated Carroll Ann Bennett, founding member of Tampa Tree Advocacy Group and vp of an umbrella group for Tampa neighborhoods. “I feel quite a lot of occasions the tree firms simply butcher the tree. It’s the quickest manner, it’s the best manner.”

“It simply seems to be horrible,” stated Gary Grudzinskas, president of St. Petersburg’s Council of Neighborhood Associations.

Each Duke Power Florida and Tampa Electrical Co. say timber are a serious reason behind energy outages, which makes chopping them again a necessity. The utilities contract with tree-trimming companies to do the work year-round, with Duke including an additional trimming forward of hurricane season. Duke trims timber on a three- to five-year cycle and Tampa Electrical on a four-year one.

And they’re conscious some residents don’t just like the seems to be of it.

Tampa Electrical will get a couple of dozen or two dozen tree-trimming complaints yearly that may vary from an excessive amount of pruning to limbs in want of trimming, in line with a spokesperson. Duke didn’t present a variety of complaints made on to the utility. Metropolis governments in St. Petersburg and Tampa additionally hear it.

“Complaints about tree trimming are widespread,” stated metropolis of Tampa spokesperson Adam Smith.

The Florida Public Service Fee, which regulates the electrical, pure fuel and water and wastewater industries within the state, obtained two formal tree-trimming complaints about Tampa Electrical in 2022. Duke stated it obtained seven formal buyer complaints via the fee that 12 months.

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The utilities say trimming is about preserving the lights on.

“Duke Power works to steadiness aesthetics with our purpose to offer secure, dependable energy to the households and companies that rely upon us,” Duke spokesperson Audrey Stasko stated in an emailed response to the Tampa Bay Occasions. She stated it’s comprehensible that prospects have issues once they see their neighborhood timber in the reduction of.

“We trim in a manner that protects the construction and the well being of the tree, and we comply with trade requirements,” stated Cherie Jacobs, spokesperson for Tampa Electrical, which she stated employs licensed arborists and foresters to supervise the work. Tampa Electrical invests about $25 million a 12 months in tree trimming, she stated.

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Each firms famous that they’ve for a number of years been named as Tree Line USA utilities, which acknowledges “greatest practices in utility arboriculture,” in line with its web site.

The V-shaped chopping could also be dismaying to some. However in line with an city forestry knowledgeable who works throughout the U.S., it’s an accepted follow.

“Pruning timber is quite a bit like making sausage,” stated Walt Warriner of the Hawaii-based Warriner Associates. “You don’t need to see it completed, you simply need to see the tip product.”

A College of Florida Institute of Meals and Agricultural Sciences weblog notes that it’s not the utility firms’ main intent to prune timber for aesthetic functions, however to direct progress away from energy strains.

“Controversy can come up when property house owners consider that their timber had been pruned inappropriately or too severely,” the weblog says. “Although typically errors are made, the contractor performing the work is usually following specs as directed by the utility.”

“Sadly, the difficulty is the general public well being and security, and preserving the lights on is at all times going to supersede the aesthetics,” Ryan Klein, assistant professor of arboriculture with the College of Florida, instructed the Occasions.

In South Tampa, Pam McCoy stated she understands the necessity to trim limbs away from energy strains. However what occurred to her tree, she stated, is “such a hack job.”

The McCoys stated they’ve consulted two arborists, one who thought their tree would most likely be OK and one who didn’t.

Jacobs at Tampa Electrical stated she had one of many utility’s arborists take a look at earlier than and after pictures of the McCoys’ tree supplied by the Occasions. She stated the trimming complied with correct arboriculture practices and didn’t jeopardize the well being or construction of the tree.

Tom Connelly, president of the Virginia Park Neighborhood Affiliation in Tampa, stated when a crew just lately confirmed as much as trim his grand oak, he requested for the supervising arborist he had seen talked about on the utility’s web site to be current. When the crew got here one other day, once more with out the arborist, he stated, he stood exterior and so they left. The supervising arborist finally got here, and the job was passable, Connelly stated.

“You’ll be able to hardly inform mine was trimmed,” Connelly stated.

Grudzinskas from St. Petersburg known as the tree-trimming state of affairs “sort of a steadiness” between preserving energy strains functioning and turning timber into “eyesores.”

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In Tampa, Marylou Bailey is president of Hyde Park Preservation Inc., a neighborhood affiliation that has organized and continues to sponsor a collaborative effort to place 175 reside oaks in rights of manner during the last decade.

“We love our timber,” she stated.

The tree-trimming problem, Bailey stated, is “not a simple one.”

“I don’t just like the aesthetics,” she stated. “However they’re attempting to harden the neighborhood for coming storms.”

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