One of the series of 'Pages on things that TICK ME OFF!'

American Electric Power HATES Trees!

It's hard to envision the power company as an evil entity that uses wanton butchery to further its aims - but that is what happened recently when American Electric Power decided that the trees in one neighborhood had to die.

Not all of the trees, though. The butchery was limited to any tree that might, at any point in its life, grow to within about 50 feet of a power line. AEP has apparently decided that it will be cheaper to kill the trees a little at a time, not unlike the Chinese "death of a thousand cuts."

AEP claimed that all property owners were notified in advance of the proposed massacre, which in more than one case extended far on to private property. That is not true. Many homeowners returned that fateful evening to find trees butchered, limbs severed, and in several cases one of their trees completely removed - and no card on the door, no message on the phone, no notification at all, just piles of wood chips and twigs scattered in their yards and on the roads.

At the root of this evil is Asplundh, a company where the term "vegetation management" is apparently equivalent to the U.S. Air Force using saturation bombing and napalm for insect control. Vegetation management to Asplundh means:

Is there a pattern here? The photographic evidence is indisputable. Look at it and judge for yourself:
Color photograph showing one pine tree in a group of pine trees, its top lopped off and left with one living branch immediately below that. This tree will die very soon. Color photograph of a group of trees showing how far down the trunks they were trimmed by Asplundh workers, even though the power line is across the road.
Asplundh workers left just ONE living branch on this pine tree, in addition to topping it, thus ensuring that this tree will die very soon. Note the number of branches trimmed from all of the pine trees, marring their appearance forever. Note how far down the trunk these pines and maples were trimmed, even though they were at least 30 feet horizontally and about 50 feet diagonally from the nearest transmission line, which is across the street! Some of these branches were only 4 feet above the ground, hardly a threat to a power line.
Color photograph showing a pine tree near a power pole, and how Asplundh workers cut off EVERY branch that faced the pole, even though none were near it. Color photograph that illustrates how all of the branches on a yellow poplar were cup off, well up into the crown, which means this tree might die very soon.
This pine tree had the misfortune to grow next to a power pole. As a result, Asplundh workers trimmed off ALL of the branches on two sides of the tree, leaving a wide V-shape. ALL of the branches on this Yellow Poplar were trimmed away, far up into the crown of the tree, although the lower branches posed no threat at all to the adjacent power line. 

Are these the 'best management practices' that can be used regarding vegetation control along power line rights-of-way? The answer is clearly and indisputably no.

The National Arbor Day Society has an excellent guide on how utility companies should handle trees near their rights-of-way. Two of the most important points are:

Were any of these very reasonable guidelines followed in this case? The pictures speak for themselves.

This damage is both cumulative and long-term, and affects not just the few trees shown here, but hundreds of others in the same area. We would like to see either AEP or Asplundh explain why this was done. The photos below show more depredations:
Color photograph showing a Yellow Poplar tree with all the upper branches cut off, so it resembles a fuzzy green toothpick.
Color photograph of a pine tree showing all of the lower branches cut off and the upper branches brown and dead.
This ridiculous-looking fuzzy green toothpick is all that is left of a Yellow Poplar after the Asplundh crew trimmed of virtually all of the top branches, and topped the tree besides. This pine tree (yellow arrow) is almost dead. All but a few of its limbs were cut off, even though it was not threatening the power lines (red arrows) in any way - and now the rest of it will not be around much longer.
Color photograph of a fir tree that was topped by Asplundh workers. The tree is clearly in distress and dying as a result.
This Fir tree (large arrow) survived and thrived for more than 45 years in this location. Now that it has been brutally topped by Asplundh on AEP's orders, it is doubtful if it will last another year or two. Does it look like this tree was a serious threat to the power line (small arrow)? This tree is already showing marked signs of distress.

AEP officials said these trees were "managed" according to their standards, but no explanation was given for why it was necessary to "top" dozens of trees, or to remove all but a branch or perhaps two, in several cases. At least one pine tree has died since it was "managed" by AEP - will the owner now have to pay for its removal, even though AEP's actions may have led to this tree's death?

Was this done because it might help AEP's bottom line, by killing the trees outright so they don't have to bother with them anymore?

Or was it over zealousness on Asplundh's part?

Or is it that AEP simply doesn't care about the importance of either trees or private property owner's rights?

Here are links to AEP or Asplundh, if you really want one, or want to let them know how you feel about their "vegetation management" practices - and we would like to thank them for all of the time they have spent visiting this page. The truth hurts, huh, guys?

If you have any questions or comments about this site, please e-mail them and we will answer you....well, probably.

If you think what AEP is doing is simply marvelous, don't e-mail us. We're sure their chain saws will make it to your neighborhood soon.


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This page was last updated Dec. 2, 2002

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