Tree Line USA

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Tree Line USA logo

Tree Line USA is a program sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters for cities and towns across the United States and recognizes public and private utilities across the nation that demonstrate practices that protect and enhance America's urban forests.


The goal is to promote the dual goals of dependable utility service and abundant, healthy trees in America's communities. Certain criteria have been developed for the public and utility workers that highlight key practices that need to be followed. Utilities that meet the requirements of this program are publicly recognized for their contribution to better community forests. This recognition serves not only as an award to the conscientious employees who make it possible, it also makes a statement to the community at large about cooperation, goodwill and the need for continuous tree care.


Tree care[edit]

A utility must have practices in place for tree pruning similar to methods prescribed by Dr. Alex L. Shigo and keeping in compliance with ANSI A300 [1] that include avoiding tree topping, tree tipping, removing branch collars and leaving long stubs. Workers who perform line clearance, including contractor workers, must read and understand Dr. Shigo's field guide (or an equivalent one approved by the State Forester and the Foundation), follows its recommendations, and has a copy at every work site for quick reference.

For trenching and tunneling near trees, it is recommended workers follow methods in Dr. James R. Fazio's field guide to reduce the destruction of roots and injury to trees. The utility must provide educational information to its underground workers on proper trenching and tunneling.

Annual worker training[edit]

Annual documented training on following the work practices is carried out for all employees, contractor workers and supervisors who do pruning work for the utility. An arborist, forester or other trained utility employee is designated by the utility to ensure that the training takes place and that the work practices are followed.

Tree planting and care[edit]

The city must have an ongoing community tree-planting program which is sponsored by the utility. Utility employees may plant the trees, or the utility may fund tree planting by municipalities, volunteer groups or homeowners. It is suggested the utility work toward an annual expenditure of at least 10 cents per customer. Also, educational information about trees (one or more mailings) are made annually to all homeowner customers and include appropriate tree species for planting near utility lines. How to create energy-efficient landscapes to reduce cooling and heating loads and tips on how to prune trees safely. The municipality must have annual Arbor Day events which are sponsored by or participated in by the utility.


  • A municipality will have healthier and more abundant community forests and will benefit from lower line clearance costs resulting from long-term cost savings from proper pruning vs. topping and low-growing rather than tall trees being planted under utility lines.
  • Reduced tree mortality resulting from proper trenching/tunneling practices.
  • Increased reliability of service because properly pruned and maintained trees with healthy root systems with less decay and structural weakness, and fewer downed lines during storms.
  • Lower peak air-conditioning and heating demand because of more trees and better placement of trees—to moderate air temperature. This will result in decreased maximum power plant capacity.
  • More trees will help absorb carbon dioxide produced by power plants that burn fossil fuels.
  • A focal point for the many community-forestry assistance projects of individual utilities.


Utilities which apply and are certified as a Tree Line USA will receive a plaque, a Tree Line USA flag and, the distinctive Tree Line USA prism for display.


  • "Pruning Trees Near Electric Utility Lines: A Field Pocket Guide For Qualified Line-Clearance Tree Workers" by Dr. Alex L. Shigo
  • "Trenching and Tunneling Near Trees: A Field Pocket Guide for Qualified Workers" by Dr. James R. Fazio.

External links[edit]