How to protect our trees as well as our power lines

We have to think more creatively about how we protect both trees and power lines ("A bid to trim power outages," Dec. 23). As Jamie Smith Hopkins' article noted, we can no more be asked to choose between trees or power than we can be asked to choose between eating or drinking. Both are necessary.

Here is one proposal to get us closer to having both.

We all understand that given the sometimes unfortunate placement of trees and wires, trees must come down. But currently, BGE is not required to replace every tree it takes down. It should be.

There is a simple way this can be done. BGE can be required to add 20 percent of the funds it expends on cutting trees for tree replacement. It can distribute those funds to the 24 volunteer, state-chartered Forestry Boards, proportional to the amount of trees it cuts in each jurisdiction.

The Forestry Boards can then allocate these funds for tree replacement to local civic, religious and partner organizations in their jurisdictions. In addition to this financial assistance and incentive, the Forestry Boards can assist in the training of tree planting and tree care, ensuring, to the best of anyone's ability, that these trees will be planted where appropriate and where they will be well-tended.

Such a structure will relieve BGE of the administrative responsibilities of replanting the trees, strengthen local forestry boards, raise the profile of tree plantings and engage the public in a growing network of tree stewards so that the new trees will be well cared for.

It will also get us one step closer to having both the power and the trees we so desperately need.

Nina Beth Cardin

The writer is director of the Baltimore Orchard Project.

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