“Utility Arboretum” to provide valuable training

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AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – It does not sound like the smartest idea to plant trees near utility poles, but UMass Amherst has done it for a reason.

They are part of what is being called a “Utility Arboretum,” which has been set up with the help of Eversource Energy in honor of Arbor Day, which is Friday.

Thirty-five trees of varying species have been planted right next to utility poles. That might sound dangerous, because according to Eversource Energy representative Paul Sellers, trees are to blame for a majority of power outages across the Pioneer Valley.

UMass arborist Professor Brian Kane explained however, that planting trees near power lines will teach landscape and arborist students how to work safely around energized lines.

“This is going to give us a great opportunity to show the students, but also lots of other interested parties, how we can properly plant select species, and maintain those trees when they’re in close proximity to the wires,” Kane said.

Eversource Energy and UMass expects DPW workers will also use the Utility Arboretum to continue practicing how to repair wires near trees.

The wires at the Utility Arboretum are de-energized. UMass and Eversource hope to have it filled with about 100 trees.

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