The company says it’s a way to battle the emerald ash borer and prevent power outages.
Williamsport, Md (KM) Potomac Edison is battling the emerald ash borer. Tree crews working for the utility are cutting down ash trees near its power lines to prevent them from coming down on electric wires causing outages.
“The emerald ash borer has been decimating trees across Ohio, western Pennsylvania and now we’re seeing more and more of it in western Maryland as well,” says Potomac Edison spokesman Todd Meyers.
The insect, which comes from Asia, was first detected in Michigan in 2002, and has destroyed millions of trees in 20 states.
The insect bores into ash trees during its larvae stage, and destroys the interior, effectively turning the insides of the tree into sawdust. “For the most part, this insect causes 100% mortality. So all the ash trees if they’re not treated with some insecticide, will die,” says Meyers.
If the infected ash tree is located near the power lines, it could become entangled with the wires as it’s falling down, causing electrical outages. Meyers says interruptions of electrical service due to trees infected with the emerald ash borer have occurred in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. “If it hasn’t occurred yet, rest assured that it will,” he says. “So we’re trying get these trees down before it gets too windy and we get the ice and snow in the winter time.”
Meyers says all ash trees near power lines will be cut down, even those that are healthy. “It’s pretty much taking out all of the trees,” he says.
“We’re not going to get them all this year. It’s going to take us some years to get everything down on the many miles of power line that we have,.” he says.
Potomac Edison says crews have taken down 3300 dead and dying trees within its service area in Maryland, and hopes to have 1700 more cut down before the end of the year. The cost will be $750,000.
The company says it will conducting tree trimming and ash removals across the region. In Frederick County, it will be done in Adamstown, Emmitsburg, Jefferson, Thurmont, Urbana and Yellow Springs.
Personnel will be working in the Union Bridge area in Carroll County, and Boonsboro, Hagerstown, Keedysville, Maugansville and Sharpsburg in Washington County. The utility will also be doing its tree trimming and ash tree removal in Barnesville, Clarksburg and Poolesville in Montgomery County.
The utility says crews will be doing tree trimming and ash tree removal in West Virginia: in Shepardstown in Jefferson County; and Falling Waters, Hedgeswille, Inwood and Martinsburg in Berkeley County; and Berkeley Springs in Morgan County.
By Kevin McManus