New trees springing up in aftermath of winter windstorm

Published: Saturday, April 21 2012 5:57 p.m. MDT

Scott Wright, left, and Jeff England unload trees at J&J Nursery and Garden Center in Layton, Wednesday, April 18, 2012.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

BOUNTIFUL — The walks Beverly Ward takes through her neighborhood generally follow the same route, but the scenery changes from day to day.

Several of Ward's neighbors have planted new trees to replace those toppled by a hurricane-force windstorm in December. Others are still cleaning up from the damage.

"Just the other day, somebody was having a tree company take down one that was leaning over and wasn't stable anymore," Ward said.

Those neighbors, she said, are planning to plant a new tree in its place.

"It's opened up different views that haven't been there for years," Ward said. "We're trying to embrace the new beauty."

Thousands of trees were knocked down during the winter windstorm that rocked Davis County and led Gov. Gary Herbert to activate the Utah National Guard to assist with the cleanup.

Now that spring has arrived, residents in cities hit hardest by the storm are deciding whether to replant the trees they lost or redesign their landscaping. And Bountiful officials are encouraging residents to "plant the right trees in the right place."

A newsletter included in residents' utility bills this month includes replanting guidelines in an effort to prevent large trees from being located too close to power lines.

City officials said the storm resulted in a little more than $2 million in damage to city property, and the majority of that was related to the city's power system.

The city guidelines follow Utah State University Extension recommendations of allowing only low-growing trees, those under 25 feet when mature, to be planted adjacent to power lines.

Medium trees, or those standing 25 to 35 feet when mature, should be at least 25 feet from overhead power lines; and large trees, 35 feet and taller, should be at least 50 feet away, according to USU Extension.

Aric Jensen, Bountiful's director of planning and economic development, has proposed an ordinance that would make those recommendations the law in the city. A draft of the proposed ordinance is being refined, Jensen said.

"The concept," he said, "is if you're in proximity of above-ground power lines, then certain trees won't be allowed."

The newsletter included a list of trees recommended for planting in proximity of power lines.

More than 1,000 trees were topped in Bountiful alone, including seven evergreens between 50 and 60 feet tall on Ward's property on Millbrook Way.

One of the trees fell onto the roof of her home and broke through the ceiling. Another smashed a cherry tree.

The Wards have planted four new trees so far, though they've opted for smaller shade trees, such as maples, this time around.

"We needed something the wind won't knock over in the winter but still give us the shade in the summer," she said. "It's time to balance the shade and the beauty with something that won't damage the house."

Sharon Anderson, co-owner of J&L Garden Center in Bountiful, said several people who lost trees during the windstorm have visited the business in recent weeks to explore their landscaping options.

"Some people are planning different landscapes around what they've lost," Anderson said. "It was shady before, and now they're looking at having more sun in their yards. They won't be able to replace (lost trees) with the same size trees."

Bountiful and other Davis County cities are starting to receive reimbursement payments from FEMA for damage caused to municipal facilities. Trees lost in storms don't qualify for federal reimbursement, except those that have to be removed from the public right of way.

Bountiful is anticipating about $1.1 million from FEMA, said Russell Mahan, city manager.

Kaysville, which also has its own power company, is expecting about $440,000 from FEMA, and some of those funds already have been received. Power damages accounted for more than $300,000 of calculated losses, said Cami Moss, city accountant.

Farmington city officials estimate the storm did about $2 million in damage citywide. More than 1,000 homes were damaged, and about 1,100 large trees were lost, city manager Dave Millheim said.

Damage to city property totaled about $200,000, Millheim said, and FEMA is expected to reimburse the city for about half of that.

Some of that money will go toward replacing the roughly 70 trees lost in city parks. The city also allocated an extra $10,000 in its budget for replacing trees, Millheim said.

Centerville city officials have submitted nearly $150,000 in reimbursement requests to FEMA, said city manager Steve Thacker. So far, the city has received about $90,000, Thacker said.

Centerville also lost about 40 trees on city property, he said.

The Centerville City Youth Council has organized a fundraiser to help replace some of those lost trees. The Tree-Dom Run 5K, a play on the city's annual Fourth of July Freedom Run, is scheduled to get under way at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 28, on 100 East, behind City Hall.

The cost to run is $5, and no pre-registration is required. The youth council hopes to raise $1,000 to replace 10 trees at city parks.

E-mail: jpage@desnews.com

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