Roadside Trees and Utilities

Trees in our urban areas, where, according to 2000 Census data, over 85% of Marylanders live, are vital to making those areas livable and vibrant for residents and businesses. Green infrastructure is a necessary part of a vibrant urban center. Grey infrastructure (our built improvements) is also necessary to the safety, efficiency, and economic well being of our cities.

The Maryland Roadside Tree Law and its regulations were developed to protect our roadside trees by ensuring their proper care and protection and to ensure their compatibility with an efficient and dependable public utility system.

Towards that end, we would like to make the following tools available.

1. Utility-compatible tree planting schematic and species listing
Utility company tree planting schematic
Figure 1 - Utility-compatible tree planting schematic

When planting trees around your home, adherence to the schematic shown in Figure 1 will help minimize the chances of utility outages due to storm-related tree failure. Some tree types that are suitable for planting in the Low Zone of Figure 1 can be found in Compatible Tree Factsheets, available from Penn State University @: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/pucfc/publications.html

The information in Item 1 was provided by the USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program on the recommendation of the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council through a grant to Virginia Tech, The Street Tree – Utility Easement Conflict.

2. If you are involved with the management of trees in urban areas, MD DNR would like to make the interactive CD-Rom “Urban Tree Risk Management: A Community Guide to Program Design and Implementation” available to you. This CD is intended to assist your community with tools to better incorporate and integrate green and grey infrastructure in urban areas. The manual on the disk is designed to help communities design, adopt, and implement comprehensive community tree risk management programs, and to train field staff to detect, assess, and correct hazardous defects in urban trees. Key steps to planning and designing a tree risk management program are outlined, including a comprehensive guide to customizing a program to address the specific needs of a unique community, establishing the goals of the program, formulating and implementing tree risk management strategies, and evaluating the program’s effectiveness.

In the Maryland Public Service Commission’s (PSC) Order No. 79159 (IN THE MATTER OF THE ELECTRIC SERVICE INTERRUPTIONS DUE TO HURRICANE / TROPICAL STORM ISABEL AND THE THUNDERSTORMS OF AUGUST 26-28, 2003), the PSC’s recommendations included the following: “The utilities are encouraged to adopt a community-integrated restoration approach for large-scale events consistent with the characteristics of their respective service territories and prudent use of their assets. The concepts underlying the Incident Command System (ICS) offer an effective means of integrating utility resources with local and State government resources. The utilities should evaluate ICS methods as a means of providing community-based restoration.” This tool is being provided to advance that recommendation.

The CD is a creation of the USDA-Forest Service’s Northeastern Area. Many other USDA-FS tools for urban tree management can be found on-line @: http://www.umass.edu/urbantree/inventory.shtml and http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/. Our copies of the CD are funded by a grant from the USDA Forest Service’s Mid-Atlantic Center for Urban & Community Forestry at Keystone, which provided for distribution of the CD to all Maryland Municipal League members.

If you would like a copy, please provide your mailing address to:
Marian Honeczy, Supervisor
Urban & Community Forestry Program
MD DNR
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21401
mhoneczy@dnr.state.md.us

Please refer to the Urban Tree Risk Management CD Rom in your request. Copies will be distributed free of charge until supplies are exhausted.

Posted February 9, 2009

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