Co-op Offers Spring Tree Planting Tips

The Flathead Valley is filled with towering, beautiful trees that offer shade in the summer and warmth in the winter. Trees are also a big cause of power outages, despite Flathead Electric Cooperative’s year-round efforts to maintain its rights-of-way – that’s 10 feet on either side of the power lines.  


The Co-op’s Right of Way crew is always on the lookout for hazardous trees that could strike a line. Sometimes those hazardous trees are far off the beaten path, and no one is overly upset by their removal, but others are much beloved by members, and their removal is extremely upsetting. 


That’s why Flathead Electric Cooperative wants you to plan before you plant, and to plant the right tree in the right place. It’s never a happy day, for tree owners or Co-op employees, when a tree is interfering with the safety of power lines and must be severely pruned or even removed. 


Here are a few tips for owning trees near power lines: 


1.      Please call the Co-op before you plant trees under power lines. 

2.      Please call the Co-op if you already have trees under lines. Help is still available! 

3.      Please know that tree maintenance along service lines – that’s the power line that comes directly to your house — is the responsibility of the property owner, not the Co-op. However, the Co-op is happy to consult with you about best practices for maintaining your service line, including temporarily disconnecting your power so that you can safely prune your trees. 

4.      Plant large trees, of mature height and spread of more than 40 feet (such as maple, willow, cottonwood, spruce, and birch), no closer than 50 feet to power lines. 

5.      Plant medium trees, of mature height and spread from 15 to 40 feet (such as a dogwood), no closer than 30 feet to power lines. 

6.      Plant small trees, of mature height of 15 feet or less (such as lilac or crabapple), no closer than 20 feet to power lines. 


During tree planting season, it’s also important to keep in mind that existing powerlines – or other utilities – might be located underground. Anytime you plan to dig, you are required to call UDIG three business days prior. 811 is the number for this free service. 


If you’d like to learn more about trees and power lines, visit or call the Co-op at 406-751-4483 and ask for the Right of Way department.  For after-hour outages, please call 406-752-4449.