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`PUNK’ TREES IN FARMINGTON SPORTING A NEW PRUNING STYLE

SHARE `PUNK’ TREES IN FARMINGTON SPORTING A NEW PRUNING STYLE

Those trees in downtown Farmington sporting a punk look were pruned, not vandalized.

Tree-trimming crews from Utah Power used two trees on State Street and two on Main Street to demonstrate a new method of trimming, called directional pruning, used to keep branches away from power lines.Trees used to be topped, with the crowns lopped off, giving them a sort of buzz-cut appearance.

But tree experts found that method does more harm than good, according to Randy Miller, a community forestry expert with the state Forestry Division.

Chopping off the tops of the trees weakens the remaining branches, makes the tree vulnerable to rot and disease, and causes new growth at the top that soon entangles myriad new branches in the same power lines, he told the City Council Wednesday.

Directional pruning trims off the branches in a v-shape around the power lines instead.

The four demonstration trees were pruned so council members could see the effect.

In addition to its regular trimming program, Utah Power would like to tear out the sycamores, replacing them with other varieties that only grow to about 30 feet high.

The city responded with a counteroffer, one that would phase in new trees over a 10-to-15-year span combined with replacing the 30-foot power poles with ones 40 to 45 feet high.

Uprooting the existing mature trees along State Street and replacing them with two-inch saplings would change the character of the neighborhood, which is trying to acquire National Historic District status, City Manager Max Forbush said.

But Utah Power representatives said they have no plans to replace the existing poles and balked at a tree replacement program that could stretch out over a decade.

The council agreed to go with the directional pruning on Main Street but deferred endorsing any changes along State Street for further study.