Sunday, July 15, 2012

NSTAR and the CRP: Some hypotheticals

Flowering cherry tree right under the transmission wires
I popped by the Charles River Peninsula to take account of what might be removed if NSTAR brings its brontosauri through Needham under its current vegetation management policy. My conclusions are strictly hypothetical. At this point we don't know what NSTAR's Needham policy will be and I don't know if the Trustees have already had discussions with NSTAR about its right-of-way on this property.

The current NSTAR policy appears to be removal of anything taller than 3 feet directly under the wires and removal of anything that is over 15 feet tall, or has the potential of growing over 15 feet tall, to the sides of the transmission wires. They need low vegetation underneath so their repair trucks have a path/adequate footing and are trying to minimize the risk of tree falls onto the wires.

The Charles River Peninsula is an unusual context because it is already largely devoid of trees. Indeed, woody growth is considered an enemy and TTOR's ecologists are constantly waging war on sumac and the like. Nevertheless there are some particular trees at risk under the current policy that I would be sad to lose. For example, the cherry tree above, which is full of birds and blossoms in early May, is directly under the wires and is definitely taller than 3 feet.

Likewise this cherry tree, which is over 15 ft tall and right along the lines (robins like to nest in it).
And this shag-bark hickory, which is getting tall enough to pose a potential risk. (It is a favorite, wouldn't you know, of our local blue-winged warblers.)

My largest concern is for the tall oaks that line the property along the railroad track. These trees are probably already tall enough to pose a risk. Their removal would substantially change the character of the area and eliminate some favorite nesting spots for Baltimore orioles.
When I look across the river at the situation in Dover  I must admit understanding a little of NSTAR's concern.  There used to be a cut under the wires but it is rapidly disappearing. It will be interesting to see what will happen there, particularly as Dover (from my understanding) has a pretty restrictive tree removal policy.

As for the Charles River Peninsula, I'm dreading what's coming down the road. I hope NSTAR will do a better job of balancing the needs for public safety and aesthetics/ecology than it has so far.

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