The resilience of trees in Northwest Montana is remarkable, and we often grow attached to them, whether collectively as the Flathead National Forest, or as the beloved backyard shade tree.
The resilience of trees in Northwest Montana is remarkable, and we often grow attached to them, whether collectively as the Flathead National Forest, or as the beloved backyard shade tree. However, trees are the #1 cause of power outages. Your Co-op devotes multiple resources to finding the balance between safe, reliable power and healthy, beautiful trees. We manage vegetation to prevent outages and public safety hazards and to mitigate wildfire risks, too.
You can help by looking up before planting trees – do you see power lines? Grasses, flowers, hedges, shrubs, and low-growing trees are all great choices for the 20-foot zone around power lines. We keep a list of about 40 small trees (maturing at less than 15’ tall) on our website – it’s easy to print and take to the nursery! Please call us before you plant trees under power lines.
Some of the tallest trees also grow the slowest, so while it may be tempting to plant trees under the lines and let the next generation worry, we ask you to plant the right tree in the right place. Trees are typically comprised of about 50% water and are excellent conductors of electricity, so they may one day present extreme safety hazards to children climbing them or to crews working near them.
Despite our best plans, sometimes trees present problems. Your Co-op isn’t always aware of these issues – after all, our electrical system runs through an area about the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. It isn’t possible for staff to get a visual on every tree in a 3,000+ square mile area. That’s where you come in!
Are you aware of a tree near overhead electrical equipment that is not yet causing an outage? Your Co-op would like to know about it before the situation becomes an emergency! You can request tree maintenance on our website or give the Vegetation Management Department a call.
Please know that tree maintenance along your service line – the power line that comes directly to your house — is the property owner’s responsibility, not the Co-op’s. However, we’re 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.
Trees Are a Gift
When trees are properly planned for and maintained, they are a gift and a legacy to us all. As part of our commitment to maintaining the wonders of Northwest Montana, you’ll receive a tree to plant if you attend this year’s Annual Meeting. Please join us on Earth Day, April 22, 8:30 a.m., at Canvas Church.