Vegetation Management

Utility Tree Trimming Program

Estes Park's location and environment make it a beautiful place to live and work. Trees are a critical part of the environment and play a vital role in the community, shaping the way people think of the area. However, when allowed to grow freely, especially in and along utility right-of-ways, trees can become a major cause of power and communications outages. These outages can occur at any time but become especially prevalent during high winds, ice and snow, and thunderstorms. The vegetation management program enables Power and Communications to protect the environment, provide for the public's safety, and ensure economical and reliable electric utility services that are compliant with proven and innovative industry best practices. Power and Communications updated the Vegetation Management Procedures in 2018.

Power and Communications' goal is to provide safe and reliable electric and broadband service to its customers. The tree trimming program helps the department meet this goal. In order to do so, tree crews execute proper clearing and trimming techniques by placing emphasis on "natural trimming" to laterals (side trim, drop crotch, overhang). The lateral branch trimming technique is a recommended best practice of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).

The basic trimming criteria are as follows:

  • Side Trim: Trees growing along the side, into, or toward electric power lines or utility space shall be trimmed.
  • Trim Drop Crotch: Trees directly under and growing into electric power lines should be removed or trimmed.

Customer Notification

Power and Communications strives to have an open communication policy with customers in regard to any tree trimming work on their property. Trimming schedules and areas are dynamic and are determined in response to power outages, visual inspections, and customer reports.


 

A member of the tree trimming crew will leave a door hanger or flyer notifying residents of tree trimming work to be done in the near future.

This program is a platform for replacing customer's trees that have been removed due to the maintenance of the utility right of way. 

Customers will be offered a one for one replacement voucher of $100 each for up to three (3) trees with a minimum diameter at breast height (DBH) of 12 inches. Vouchers may be used for the purchase of trees, shrubs or other woody species at participating local nurseries. The voucher can be redeemed at participating nurseries at any time during the year and is valid for any woody type plant, with the exception of tree species with an expected mature height greater than fifteen feet. The customer must sign their voucher when it is redeemed. Vouchers will be valid for one year from the date of issue.

Vouchers will not be issued for trees removed from the backyard, at the homeowner's request, or due to storm damage.

Customers are responsible for contacting the Power and Communications office to request a site visit and replacement voucher. The customer does not need to be present for the site visit. Vouchers, along with a planting guide and a suggested plant list developed from the Community Development plant list, will either be issued in person or mailed to the customer.

Customers will be responsible for the selection, transportation, planting, and care of replacement trees or plants. Power and Communications will not be held responsible for the survivability of plants or trees, which may succumb due to improper care, drought, etc. Any problems with the health of replacement trees after planting should be referred to the participating nursery.

Plant List and Planting Guide

Estes Park's location and environment limit the types and species of plants that will grow and thrive. Light and Power has worked with the coordinator of Estes Park in Bloom to develop a list of plants that are both suitable for the region and meet the stipulations of the replacement program: Suggested Plant List.

Knowing what plants to select is only part of the equation for having a plant thrive. Knowing when, where, and how to plant is also important. There are many resources available for learning how to best plant your new tree or shrub. Here are a few:

When selecting a plant's location, be sure to consider the space available both above and below ground. A plant placed in or along a utility right-of-way can cause issues with overhead or underground utilities and sewer lines in the future.

Arbor Day foundation illustration of planting location

For questions regarding tree trimming in the utility right-of-way or to request a site visit for a replacement tree, please contact the Power and Communications' Administrative Assistant, Sarah Clark, at 970-577-3627 or sclark@estes.org.