The Flathead Valley is filled with towering, beautiful trees that offer shade in the summer and warmth in the winter.

Father and son planting a tree in their yard

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.

Trees are the primary cause of power outages and so the Co-op’s Vegetation Management crew is always looking for trees that could cause issues with the power lines. The Co-op strives to work collaboratively with our members to address potential threats before they arise.

That’s why Flathead Electric Cooperative wants you to plan before you plant, and to plant the right tree in the right place. Here are a few tips for trees near power lines:

  • Please call the Co-op before you plant trees under power lines.
  • Please call the Co-op if you already have trees growing into or near powerlines. Help is still available!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 by law to call UDIG three business days prior. 811 is the number for this free service. Montana 811.

If you’d like to learn more about trees and power lines, visit our Trees page or call the Co-op at (406) 751-4483 and ask for the Vegetation Management department. For after-hour outages, please call (406) 751-4449.

Flathead Electric Cooperative

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