Arborist to oversee ‘judicious’ tree maintenance project in Dowagiac

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2022

DOWAGIAC — City leaders are bringing in an expert to provide guidance for an upcoming maintenance project.

The Dowagiac City Council on Monday approved a resolution to set a $250,000 budget for tree maintenance around electrical lines throughout the city, with some of the funds going toward hiring an arborist to oversee the project. 

Anderson said the arborist – a professional in the field of tree health and maintenance – will also be in communication with homeowners regarding trees in front of their homes.

“Trees are important to our neighborhoods, they’re important to the value of houses and we can’t just have large-scale removal,” said City Manager Kevin Anderson. “We’re not going to trim as wide as what you see alongside state right-of-ways and county highways. It will be judicious.”

Midwest Energy & Communications has already solicited bids for the project, and the resolution authorizes City Manager Kevin Anderson to contract services per MEC recommendations.

“We’re on this through MEC, and if we’re not satisfied and they move away from those parameters, we can stop this instantly,” Anderson said. “We’ve made very clear what our expectations are on this, and now it’s up to us to make sure that those expectations are met.”

Anderson said the budget is slightly higher than normal due to the fact the city has not performed significant tree maintenance around power lines in the last three years. He brought a copy of a 1979 tree inventory and management plan by the city to illustrate how critical trees have been to the community. 

“In [the plan], it defines the same kinds of things that we’re looking at today when it comes to line maintenance and care of trees,” Anderson said. “Any trees that are removed, we will replace.”

Mayor Don Lyons said one of the issues is deciding how much of the tree to trim around the power lines. 

“Of course, the farther back you trim, the less often you have to trim,” Lyons said. “There’s a five-year trimming protocol and a ten-year trimming protocol, and we went with the five-year trimming protocol.”

In other business, council:

  • Approved a resolution to authorize a charitable gaming license for Friends of the Dowagiac Area History Museum to host a raffle this year. 
  • Approved a resolution to authorize a renewal of an intergovernmental agreement with Southwestern Michigan College to provide fire protection services to their campus.
  • Approved a resolution to authorize a three-year farmland lease renewal with Terry Ausra for the city-owned airport property.