Erin Givens (far right), OUC Vegetation Program Manager, attributes OUC’s 23-year streak as a Tree Line USA© honoree to ‘a commitment to sustainable urban forest management.’

OUC’s vegetation management program was honored with the Arbor Day Foundation’s 2022 Tree Line USA©   award. A 23-year honoree, OUC is the longest-running recipient of this award in Florida.

Tree Line USA© is a national program recognizing public and private utilities for practices that protect and enhance America’s urban forests. A collaboration of the Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters, Tree Line USA© promotes the dual goals of delivering safe and reliable electricity while maintaining healthy community trees.

OUC achieved the 2022 Tree Line USA® recognition by meeting five program standards: 1) Follow industry standards for quality tree care; 2) provide annual worker training in best tree care practices; 3) sponsor a tree planting and public education program; 4) maintain a tree-based energy conservation program; and 5) participate in an Arbor Day celebration.

Erin Givens, OUC Vegetation Management Specialist, attributed OUC’s Tree Line USA© award streak to “a commitment to sustainable urban forest management.” Givens added that “OUC goes to great lengths to maintain a healthy tree canopy in our service territory, and we promote tree plantings in the community by giving away tree seedlings and educating the public on the environmental benefits trees provide.”

OUC encourages customers to keep safety in mind during any landscaping project. Before planting trees or doing other work outdoors, Florida law requires residents to call Sunshine State One-Call at 800-432-4770 or 8-1-1. Through this federally designated number arrangements are made for utilities to inspect properties for underground pipes and electric lines. Please call at least two business days before starting, whether it involves heavy equipment or even simple landscaping.

While calling 8-1-1 can help you know what’s below, residents should also remember to be aware of what’s above. Check the area overhead landscape work to make sure it’s clear of powerlines and keep cranes, ladders, pruners and other equipment at least 10 feet from the powerlines. If powerlines pose a concern for your landscaping projects, then you can submit an online tree trimming request or call OUC Customer Service at 407.423.9018 to submit a request. An OUC inspector will visit the site within one to two weeks and advise on whether the tree(s) have sufficient clearance or if OUC tree trimming assistance is needed.

It is important to remember to avoid planting large trees directly under powerlines. Always research the mature height and width of the tree canopy to ensure you are allowing it enough space for your tree to grow. If planting directly under overhead powerlines, then the vegetation should not have a mature height greater than 15 feet tall. If a large tree is desired, then plant the tree at least 50 feet away from powerlines. If the tree canopy width exceeds 50 feet, then increase your setback from the powerlines accordingly. Trees and powerlines can coexist if the right tree is planted in the right place. Click here to learn more about OUC’s Vegetation Management program.

And if you want a FREE tree seedling, join us Saturday April 23 at Peghorn Park in St. Cloud where we will be celebrating Earth Day with the community.