The City of Tucson Department of Transportation (TDOT) and Tucson Electric Power Company (TEP) are collaborating to improve the city’s street tree canopy. Trees growing into overhead power lines have been regularly pruned with directional and ‘V’ cuts, which reshapes the tree’s canopy into an unnatural shape.

Under this new tree replacement program, TEP will systematically remove trees growing into overhead utility lines. For each tree that is removed, TDOT will replace it with two new trees that are shorter in stature or replanted in an area away from overhead utility lines. The replacement trees will be Screwbean Mesquite, Catclaw Acacia or Kidneywood trees and will be watered with irrigation lines already in place. The new program will reduce maintenance costs for TEP and will improve the aesthetics and tree canopy of the city’s landscape.

The “Utility Tree Replacement Program” that follows the national practice of “Right Tree in the Right Location” was developed by the City’s Landscape Advisory Committee, TDOT, TEP, the City’s Urban Landscape Manager and staff of Trees for Tucson. Trees for Tucson, a program of Tucson Clean and Beautiful, has been advocating for an alternative treatment to the directional pruning of trees growing into utility lines.

“The City of Tucson and Tucson Electric Power Company’s decision to remove trees that can grow into power lines is long overdue,” said Joan Lionetti, Executive Director of Tucson Clean and Beautiful. “Many of the trees planted were inappropriate species for planting under power lines.  Trees for Tucson feels strongly that appropriate placement, species and size of trees significantly contributes to the social, environmental and economic and health benefits of our community.”

The program is scheduled to begin in mid-April and in the first year of the program approximately 100 trees will be replanted.