Thursday, November 4, 2010

Be Prepared: Distribution Line Clearing Community Action Plan

Ask your municipal officials to set up an action plan now before Con Ed pruning trucks are idling on your street. Some things you can do on your own within your local community / block. Please consider these action points (based upon our experiences in Irvington last year):
  • Have your elected reps meet with senior Con Ed management to let them know you mean business when it comes to tree conservation and urban forest protection.
  • Hold a high visibility public rally in support of tree conservation and minimal pruning. Get local media involved from the onset. Collect email addresses for community notification.
  • Get to know your crew supervisor for the Tree Contractor and project supervisor for Con Ed. Ensure the Con Ed supervisor is an experienced, certified arborist.
  • Trust but verify – meet, review & monitor every step of the way, every tree (on public easement or on private property)!
  • Have a qualified Consulting Arborist on contract and "on-call" for the duration of the project cycle. Have arborist meet and review pruning expectations with Con Ed and contractor on each new street segment (typically each morning).
  • Highlight areas of historic or specimen quality trees for special handling. Meet & review - walk the line - ahead of time, but especially on the day of actual pruning. Insist upon supervision oversight by a senior Con Ed arborist that you have met and are comfortable with.
  • Agree upon and publicly post the complaint resolution process. (Complaints should go to a specific project email address and to local officials such as DPW for tracking & forwarding "up the chain", and not to the generic 1-800-ConEd number.)
  • Have a Contact Escalation list (including Con Ed senior management) and a defined emergency “stop work” process to allow time-out for on-site consultations.
  • Keep the public informed (email, web, cable, clerk's office, police department) as to the daily work schedule, their rights as property owners, escalation contacts to use, etc.
  • Ensure that Con Ed and Tree Contractor are giving sufficient pre-notification to homeowners for all private tree pruning. There should be at least 48 hours and a contact number to set up a consultation with the Con Ed Notification Forester for the project.
  • Document your assets: take photos before and after pruning. Also get a written description from Notification Forester of what tree pruning you have agreed to.
  • Set up volunteer monitoring of line clearing operations. Establish neighborhood watches block by block. Observers should report (escalate) any unusual, unwanted, un-agreed, or excessive pruning immediately!
  • Report any rude language or behavior by pruning crews. Sure, dealing with public is difficult, especially when it comes to emotional issues such as trees. But the crews must remain civil and professional at all times.
  • Create and update daily a "Scrapbook of Shame" (using Flicker or similar photo posting site) documenting bad pruning and other problems reported.
  • Use Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to keep everyone informed and to quickly organize an action response crowd, if and when required.
Longer Term Efforts:
  • Start a program of municipal street tree maintenance (eg: annual pruning, tree replacement with appropriate tree species, GPS-based street tree survey.)
  • Plan a public “Re-Leaf” Project to re-plant areas where street trees have been removed.

1 comment:

jugglingpaynes said...

Thank you so much for all of your help! I hope you realize what a valuable asset your blog is for anyone who is in danger of losing a tree simply because it is considered too close to a power line.