Replanting to begin in October
Approximately half of the 150 full-grown sycamore trees separating Blair's two parking lots from University Boulevard and Colesville Road were removed during mid-August by Pepco because of interference with electric wires above and below ground.
This project had no connection with Blair, according to Blair Business Manager Jim Funk, and though the trees are located on school property, Pepco reserves the right of utility easement to external property. The growth potential of sycamores (75 to 80 feet high) puts pruning out of the question when the power lines are only 40 feet off the ground, said horticulture teacher Leslie Backus. "PEPCO has a Right Tree in the Right Space program where they are trying to remove trees before they cause a problem during a storm."
The trees, if not cut, would "impact the electricity of the whole community," said Funk.
Pepco had been planning to get rid of the trees since last year, said Backus. The remaining trees were not planted directly under power lines and could be kept with only minor pruning, according to Terry Galloway, arborist at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Forest Service.
According to Funk, the deforestation only took two days, in which the trees were cut down and the stumps were ground. However, the sidewalks will remain empty for little longer, assures Galloway, "shorter growing, ornamental trees" will be planted to replace the mounds of dirt in the ground in October.
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