man cutting trees

Always Watch Out For Hazards When Cutting Trees

Cutting trees and limbs can be a very hazardous job, particularly when the damage has been caused by a storm.  Hurricanes, monsoons, tornados and heavy wind events can all lead to structural damage to a tree.  Furthermore, wildfires can damage a tree and cause it to become unsafe.

When cutting trees down, however, there is more to consider than simply removing the damaged plant.  Arborists such as the experts at Evergreen Arborist Consultants can provide information and evaluation of damaged trees for property owners, government agencies and others who have an interest in discovering the solutions to these issues. Read more

Arborists, Unite! Midwest Professionals Protest Clear Cutting of Trees

Trees and utility powerlines

Trees and utility powerlines

Chicago, Illinois–The Utility Arborists Association may have a solution to a problem that has been plaguing utility companies for several years and affects millions of people who need power.  The problem is hot power lines sagging onto overgrown trees.  One such “sag” event in 2003 resulted in a blackout that affected 50 million people.  Adequately managing tree growth near power lines became a critical task for many power companies, fueled by fines of up to $1 million by Congress against companies that do not properly trim their trees.  The result:  clear cutting of trees that has injured habitats and blighted green spaces.

The Right-of-Way Stewardship Council has been working on an accreditation  process for utilities that keep environmental standard in mind when cleaning up the areas around power lines by plant management.  Arborists are working with several companies to recommend low-growing species of trees that will block out and shade the higher-growing species, leading to a lower canopy that will allow nature to manage most of the problem itself.

The Utility Arborists Association

The method advocated by the Utility Arborists Association requires more up-front planning and work, but gives much better results both for the people living around the power lines and for the habitat.  Ultimately, the UAA says that their methods will result in lower overall costs and less habitat destruction.  Nationwide, about 8.6 million acres of land are currently used in transmission corridors.  Good management of these corridors could result in habitat and migration paths for animals and birds and recreational green spaces for humans.  Utility arborists can be used to monitor for invasive insects and disease as well as assist the cities or counties in choosing the right plant species for their transmission corridors.

Utility arborists have the expertise to assist utility companies that want to work with the environment and native species in creating power corridors.  ROW hopes that by supporting these efforts, utility companies will see the ultimate value in planned planting rather than in simply clear-cutting these corridors.  They also hope that legislatures will see the value of rewarding companies that work with professional arborists and experts to create habitat for wildlife and plant species rather than destroying these habitats with clear cutting.

Source:  Midwest Energy News, “Trees vs. transmission:  Utility arborist group seeks better approach,” Dan Haugen, August 19, 2013.

Indian Wells Ficus Hedge Could Cost $10 Million



Indian Wells, California–It is hard to believe the lowly ficus could stir such controversy, but a hedge in Indian Wells may wind up with a $10 million pricetag, payable by the city.

The hedge has already cost the city a great deal of money, and now the litigants are fighting over attorney’s fees.  A civil rights suit has been filed in U.S. District Court that may wind up costing the city $10 million to settle.  All of this for a simple ficus hedge?  Yes–according to partners Doug Lawellin and Steve Rohlin, owners of a kitchenware store in Palm Desert.

How Did A Hedge Become The Center of Controversy?

The 26 feet tall, 83 feet long and 11 feet wide hedge was the “reason we bought” the home, according to Lawellin.  However, a neighbor, Susan Aldridge, filed a complaint in 2011 stating that the hedge blocked her view of the mountains and wanted the top five feet taken off.  The city had failed to enforce older hedge ordinances, but adopted a new ordinance to take care of the hedge issue.  The protracted, lengthy legal battle that resulted has left everyone exhausted and resulted in the new battle for attorney’s fees.

The controversy stemmed from the allegation that when the new ordinances were put in someone filed a new complaint on the neighbor’s behalf against the rules requiring the neighbor to do it herself.  When the city sent Lawellin a letter asking for the hedge to be cut down to 9 feet, he argued that the code was being selectively enforced.

Enter The Arborists . . .

In this case, a landscaper was also called in to testify.  He said that the hedge had only a 15 percent chance of survival if it was cut so drastically.  The city’s arborist apparently agreed with this assessment, although the city denies that the arborist made such a statement.  Eventually, the couple hired their own arborist who measured the height of the hedge at 26 feet and recommended that no more than one-third be removed annually to give the tree the best chance for survival.  A horticultural journalist also noted that the adjacent property owners may need to make adjustments for their own plants due to sudden lack of shade, and birds may need to find new shelter.

A professional arborist may testify as an expert witness in such cases.  The testimony of an arborist is often the defining factor that leads to a settlement or judgment in such a case.  In this case, once the attorney’s fees issue is worked out, it is to be hoped that the advice of the experts will be implemented to save the hedge and the habitat.

Source:  My Desert, “Ficus Fracas:  Indian Wells focus of $10M lawsuit,” August 28, 2013.

camp tawonga sign

Pacific Gas & Electric Found Nothing Wrong With Deadly Tree

Yosemite National Park—This past summer, a 21-year-old lost her life and four adults were treated at hospitals after a tree fell at Camp Towanga near Yosemite National Park.  Pacific Gas & Electric Co. had recently inspected the tree in question and apparently found nothing wrong with the oak.  PG&E were required to inspect due to the presence of nearby power lines.  Tuolumne County sheriff’s spokesman Jim Oliver called the incident a “freak accident.”

Annais Rittenberg, 21, was in her second year as a camp counselor for Camp Towanga, a Jewish camp in Yosemite, when the tree fell on a campfire circle of which she was a part.  Fortunately, no children were injured, but Rittenberg lost her life and four other adults were hurt, two of whom had to be hospitalized. Read more

Palos Verdes Tree Trimmer

Power was knocked out in Palos Verdes near Abalone Cove when a tree trimmer, working on trimming a pine tree at a height of 25 feet, accidentally touched his pruning shear to an overhead electrical cable. The tree trimmer was killed in the electrocution accident.

The tree trimmer worked for Ben’s Gardening Service and he was later identified as Enrique Torres of Cudahy. The state Division of Occupational Health and Safety was called to investigate the accident and will have six months to complete its review. Peter Melton, spokesman for the agency, said that the initial investigation showed Torres had hung his tool on the electrical wire. Torres was 31 years old.

Evergreen Arborists Consultants, Inc. is a second generation Los Angeles Arborist, Orange County Arborist, San Diego Arborist, and Bay Area Arborist and Bay Area tree experts and tree specialists with experience in landscape maintenance, landscape construction, drainage, irrigation management, tree care, tree management, tree and plant appraisals. We specialize in conducting detailed investigations and providing independent analysis, as well as expert witness testimony in support of litigation. Please call us today for a consultation.

PacifiCorp Pays for 2009 Sims Creek Fire

A decaying Douglas fir tree fell onto a power line operated by PacifiCorp on June 23, 2009 and started the Sims Creek Fire. The National Forest System owns the land the power lines are on and PacificCorp is required to remove falling limbs and trees, and keep the area around the lines clear. Any resulting damages is to be paid by PacifiCorp. When Forest Service investigators looked at what caused the fire, they found that PacifiCorp had failed to identify as hazardous and remove the 64-foot tree that started the fire.

The fire burned 160 acres in the Klamath National Forest and the cost of the fire (which included suppression and rehabilitation) was $1.22 million. Although PacifiCorp denied liability for the fire, they agreed to pay the entire cost of the fire.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner commented, “Federal public lands are national treasures, and our office will continue to identify those responsible for starting fires and hold them accountable for the damage caused so taxpayers do not have to bear these costs. PacifiCorp took responsibility by fully compensating the United States for all damages without requiring time-consuming and costly litigation.”

The U. S. Attorney’s office has also settled other significant cases this year from national forest injury: $122.5 million with Sierra Pacific and other defendants for the Moonlight Fire, and $29.5 million for the 2004 Freds Fire and the 2004 Sims Fire.

Evergreen Arborists Consultants, Inc. has expert witness experience with property damage and personal injury cases. We have deposition and trial experience working for plaintiff and defense cases on behalf of individuals, insurance companies and public agencies. Please call us today for a consultation.

Pacific Palisades Tree Failure

In June 2006 in Pacific Palisades, a large carob tree fell over and crushed an unoccupied SUV. The street was closed while emergency crews cleared the street. A couple days later, a large limb off a eucalyptus tree fell a block from where the carob had failed. NazairoSauceda, from the Bureau of Street Services in the Public Works Department, commented on the tree failure, “We are investigating the tree that failed. They don’t fail like that typically.” The carob tree failed at the root ball and when it fell over, it totaled the SUV. Michael McRoskey, the owner of the SUV, said, “The scary part is if someone had been driving down that street around noon, they’d be dead.”

Tree failures are caused for a number of reasons, and each tree needs to be inspected individually for signs of over-weighted canopy, root damage due to construction, or overwatering and underwatering.

Before this incident, two other carob trees had failed at their roots and three other eucalyptus trees had shed large branches in Pacific Palisades. Residents have expressed concern over the potential hazards, but street tree superintendent Ron Lorenzen explained that there are about 700,000 street trees that are on a pruning schedule, but that the city only has funding to trim about a tenth of those trees each year. That means that the trees are on about a nine to ten year pruning schedule.

One local arborist commented that the city needs to have more funding up front for the care of the trees instead of having to pay legal expenses for damages once a tree fails.

Evergreen Arborists Consultants, Inc. has experience in examining thousands of trees. We evaluate a tree’s signs and symptoms ranging from decay, poor branch structure, poor pruning and maintenance practices, and roots.Please call us today for a consultation.

Spreading Emerald Ash Borer

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has become a major problem in the United States due to its quick spread and the deadly impact it has on trees around the country. First seen in the Michigan area in 2002, it is believed that it was introduced into the United States in firewood transported from Asia. Since this initial introduction, they have been responsible for over 50 million tree deaths, most often ash trees. reported that the beetle is now found in Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The spread of this parasite is most often caused when infested firewood is moved through human activity to uninfested areas – the beetles usually don’t fly more than a half-mile. To try to slow the spread of this parasite, some counties in Iowa have been quarantined, which means that a permit is needed to move firewood out of the county. The Emerald Ash Borer was first sighted in Iowa in 2010 and has quickly spread across the state. Iowa has approximately 52 million ash trees located in rural areas and about three million ash trees in urban settings. After the beetles infest a tree, it takes two to four years for the tree to die. Because of the length of time it takes to show signs of infestation, it is unclear how much damage has been done before quarantines have been put in place. The beetles leave D-shaped entry holes in any tree they inhabit, which makes this a telltale sign of infestation. Although quarantines have been put in place, officials haven’t yet worked out all the logistics of the quarantine. “We hope in future weeks we will have the quarantine worked out, we will have worked with industry to fully inform everyone and hopefully draw up a good quarantine plan,” says Iowa entomologist Robin Prusiner.

Microburst Knocks Down Hundreds of Trees

A line of thunderstorms that went through Hopkinton, New Hampshire, in July created a microburst that knocked down several hundred trees in the area. National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Cempa estimated that the winds were blowing at 60 to 80 miles an hour. The storm and the resultant fallen trees knocked out power in the area.

Resident Pauline Meridien was home with her husband when the storm hit. “It’s amazing how huge these trees are. It was just awful. We had a 60-foot blue spruce that came down next to our house,” she said. Meridien also reported that four large pine trees fell around her son’s house, who lives next door, but did not damage the house. A vehicle in Hopkinton was crushed by another fallen tree, but no injuries were reported.

Evergreen Arborists Consultants, Inc. has experience in examining thousands of trees. We evaluate a tree’s signs and symptoms ranging from decay, poor branch structure, poor pruning and maintenance practices, and roots. Tree risk assessment helps minimize the risk of falling trees or branches. Please call us today for a consultation.

Eucalyptus in Santa Monica

eucalyptus tree

eucalyptus tree

Santa Monica City Hall ordered the removal of a 100-year-old, 100-foot-tall eucalyptus tree after three large limbs fell from the tree within two weeks. The first limb could possibly have been explained as caused by dry weather, but the next two limbs showed signs of fungal decay. One of these limbs weighed 2000 lbs. The tree, located on private property, was examined by a number of arborists to determine if the tree was decaying. A Community Forester and an arborist hired from City Hall determined that the tree was falling apart and that a fungus had infected the upper section of the tree. Independent arborists felt the tree was sound overall and with consistent and careful pruning, the tree could be maintained safely. Walt Warriner, the Community Forester, said after examination, “Once I got into the tree, I was more concerned that the decay had spread further than anticipated. There were other wounds that were entry points for decay fungi. The science points to the fact that the potential is there. There are significant limbs that, if they were to fail, would cause serious damage.”

After the findings, the tree’s owners said they would try to memorialize the tree by using the wood for projects and possibly leave a 10 to 20 foot stump. The tree had been highlighted in two books, “Trees of Santa Monica” and “Exceptional Trees of Los Angeles,” and it had been officially landmarked by the city. It was the largest known specimen of its type in the country.