BOSTON – Sustained drought conditions in New England, followed by above-average rainfall this year and combined with insect infestations, are having a devastating effect on trees. Many trees that are impacted by this unusual mix of conditions have also experienced accelerated growth due to significant amounts of rainfall in the region. Weighed down by fuller limbs that become heavy with water during storms, and suffering from weakened root systems, these trees are now more susceptible to uprooting.
“With thousands of homes, businesses, hospitals and other critical facilities depending on our power lines to deliver electricity, our robust tree-trimming programs are more important than ever to help ensure that we can continue delivering energy for every moment of your life,” said Eversource Manager of Vegetation Management Bob Allen. “Our team of certified arborists works every day to identify and remove hazardous trees that pose a threat to our electric system, balancing the need for reliable energy service with the important benefits trees provide."
This year in Eastern Massachusetts, Eversource is investing $37 million in tree trimming and hazardous tree removal along more than 2,100 miles of overhead lines to enhance reliability for customers throughout the state. Eversource crews are trimming year-round, but property owners can also help protect the electric system by maintaining the health of their trees. This includes keeping branches away from the lower-voltage service wires connecting their homes or businesses to the main utility lines on the street. Eversource strongly recommends contacting a professional tree service to perform this work.
“Weather conditions in New England and throughout the country have certainly been extreme this year,” said Bartlett Tree Experts Vice President and Director Dr. Kelby Fite, who conducts research in the company’s Tree Research Lab. “When tree root systems dry out during a drought, they exude chemicals that attract disease-causing organisms. Significant amounts of rainfall saturate soil and create an environment in which these disease-causing organisms thrive. One of the best things homeowners can do to help prevent root decay in their trees is to water root systems throughout a drought and maintain a two- to three-inch layer of wood mulch at the base of their trees—but be sure not to cover the portion to the tree where the trunk widens at the base as it transitions to the root system.”
Fite also recommends homeowners call a certified arborist to help identify any trees that are showing signs of stress, which may include thinning of the crown, loss of foliage and the presence of mushrooms near the base of the tree. By improving the health of their trees, homeowners will not only help prevent tree-related damage, but also enhance the aesthetics and value of their property.
Eversource is empowering property owners to help enhance reliability across the energy system by sharing tips on maintaining the health of their trees, including information about planting the right tree in the right place and proper fall cleanup. For more information about the company’s comprehensive vegetation management program, visit Eversource.com.