River Park public safety and reliability tree maintenance effort

SMUD and its tree contractors routinely conduct what is called vegetation management patrols, inspections and work to clear trees and branches close to or in danger of encroaching on SMUD power poles, wires and equipment.

In November 2018, SMUD began increasing its vegetation management efforts in River Park and two nearby areas, as portions of the tree canopy are overly mature, and have become a public safety, electrical safety< and a reliability concern.

Nearly all the trees identified for pruning or removal are on private property in River Park and extending out along SMUD’s lines between C and J Streets, and in the nearby Alhambra Boulevard and 21st Street areas.

Since July 2018, SMUD arborists and planning staff have prepared for this effort by coordinating with Sacramento City Urban Forestry Arborists, and meeting with each customer to explain the initiative, discuss each tree and the reasons for pruning or removing them, and obtain each customer’s approval for the proposed work.

This preventive public safety and reliability work follows industry best practices and is done on a daily and year-round schedule. It goes a very long way in keeping the public, employees and contractors safe, while minimizing outages in terms of size and duration.

SMUD has contracted with Mountain F Enterprises (of Folsom) to prune hundreds of trees and remove approximately 60 that have been responsible for recurring outages in River Park and surrounding areas for the past seven years.

If you have questions, please contact the SMUD Vegetation Management Tree Phone Line: 1-916-732-5854.

Background on SMUD’s vegetation management programs

  • Every area in the service territory with overhead lines on poles is assessed at least every 36 months. Some trees grow faster than expected, so SMUD also performs a mid-cycle patrol at the 18-month mark ensuring all trees near lines are in compliance.
    • Any potential situation that can cause an outage or safety issue is prioritized and addressed to ensure public safety and reliability.
    • Palm branches that are often broken off during storms and then carried by the wind into power lines, are a primary concern.
  • Trees are beautiful and provide excellent natural benefits including comfort and energy savings from the shading canopy, but their growth needs to be managed.
    • The elected SMUD Board of Directors lists Environmental Stewardship as one of SMUD’s Core Values.
    • SMUD’s “Do No Harm” edict coincides with public safety and electric reliability.
    • In 2014, SMUD was recognized by the Right of Way Stewardship Council (ROWSC) for demonstrated excellence in managing the vegetation growth near the SMUD electrical system.
  • SMUD’s comprehensive vegetation management program helped firefighters control the King Fire in 2014, which impacted SMUD’s transmission lines in the Sierra.
    • A key turning point in the battle came as SMUD’s transmission line rights of way that had already been managed using industry best practices.
    • SMUD’s vegetation management program provided critical fire breaks for firefighters in eventually stopping the fire’s spread.
    • CAL FIRE officials publicly acknowledged SMUD’s vegetation management program under its transmission corridor as critical factors in efforts to protect the small foothill towns of Camino, Pollock Pines, and Apple Hill from the catastrophic King Fire.