MLGW is currently having their contractor, Blume/Asplundh, prune trees along power lines within Lakeland. The utility prunes on regular cycles. Utility line clearance is essential to minimize power outages but also for safety. Trees growing too close to a power line can become conductors but can also serve as ladders for children or homeowner’s to climb and reach live wires.
We’ve all seen how dramatic utility line pruning can be. The City of Lakeland Natural Resources Board, Board of Commissioners, and Natural Resources Department have worked with MLGW and Blume/Asplundh to implement a better system of pruning. This system is composed of two parts: increased removals and lateral pruning.
First, large maturing trees growing under the power lines will be removed. We must stop planting or allowing tall maturing trees to grow under power lines. They will have to be topped repeatedly and will therefore become unsightly, unsafe, and will continue to sprout back into the lines.
Second, we will be using natural target or lateral pruning. That means cutting branches back to a main lateral or the trunk. This is called natural target pruning because its pruning back to the point that the tree would naturally shed the branch. It allows the tree to close the wound and minimizes sprouting back toward the line. It follows the national standard for pruning and is not topping or tipping.
Topping is cutting the tree between the nodes or at a random spot on the branch. It’s bad for the tree as this type of pruning prevents wounds from healing over. It’s bad for the citizens because it obviously looks bad but can also be unsafe. And it’s bad for the utility because it promotes sprouting back which increases pruning costs and decreases reliability because of the number of tree-related outages.
Please note that this type of pruning and these removals may look drastic the first cycle. But we hope you will appreciate that we are working to create permanent solutions to tree and utility line conflicts. We must prune trees properly so they don’t create hazards or grow back into the lines. And we must stop planting large maturing trees near power lines. It’s all part of our mission as a Tree City to get the Right Tree in the Right Place.
Also note that this type of pruning is only being practiced along the City streets. Pruning on private property is still between the utility and the homeowner. If you have any questions you may call the Lakeland Natural Resources Department at 867-2717.