From the desk of the president:
The Utility Arborist Association (UAA) was founded more than 40 years ago to be the leading resource for individuals involved in the practice of arboriculture and vegetation management within the utility industry. Today, there are more than 3,000 members who are active in the field, and that number continues to grow as people see the value of belonging to a group that represents their needs and interests.
Public outreach and professional development are key components of the UAA’s vision. Each year, the UAA partners with Transmission & Distribution World to create a utility vegetation management (UVM) supplement that reaches out to decision makers — you — to share information and ideas that can enhance the vegetation management programs that promote public safety, reliability, sustainability, strong customer service and cost-effectiveness.
The utility environment in which we operate today has changed significantly, and the topics covered in this supplement represent some of the best thinking that is driving our business forward. We have been and always will be a “people” business. We must remain centered on putting individuals and vehicles at a tree near a utility line. That said, with our dependence on affordable power and liability concerns, the stakes are now much higher than in the past.
This T&D World supplement allows us to target people within a utility who may not be involved in the day-to-day operation of a vegetation management program but who ultimately have responsibility for its outcomes. Our goal is to reach people who may not always have a traditional or historical background in the UVM field, so we can work together to balance priorities when determining how to spend what are, in most cases, limited budget dollars.
The UAA is continuing its tradition of involvement in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the Edison Electric Institute Vegetation Management Task Force. Visits to federal agencies and members of Congress occur on a regular basis to help ensure that our voice is heard from a regulatory and potentially legislative front. There is continued movement in the direction of an updated memorandum of understanding with federal agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to effectively and efficiently manage the numerous transmission and distribution rights-of-way (ROW) that cross public land.
Many UAA members personally support the Utility Arborist Research Fund (UARF), administered by the TREE Fund, an international foundation for tree research and education. The UARF also receives money from forward-thinking utilities that want research that directly benefits UVM programs and their decision makers. Current projects include developing a business case for scheduling vegetation management on a preventive versus corrective maintenance basis.
Using their professional training and experience, UAA members educate the public about proper tree care in their communities and encourage tree planting that incorporates the “right tree, right place” philosophy. They participate in long-standing programs with the Arbor Day Foundation — Tree Line USA or Tree City USA — and are actively involved as an affiliate organization of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Through the ISA, UAA members have played a critical role in the development of best management practices for tree risk assessment, integrated vegetation management and utility pruning. Many of these principles are now the basis of contract specifications for many effective UVM programs.
The UAA also supports the ROW Stewardship Council, a recognition program that went live in 2014 and now has five founding member companies that are using the best-in-class principles and practices of integrated vegetation management. This includes the use of selective herbicides, where appropriate, to develop a low-growing plant community that provides sustainable wildlife habitat and access to the ROW while preventing tree/conductor contact.
The UAA is run by volunteers who work to increase professionalism within the industry and outreach beyond UVM practitioners, but they also need support from their employers to attend UAA regional meetings and participate in professional development and networking sessions. Sharing expertise is what moves our industry forward. Being a part of the UAA, through sponsorship or providing speakers, is a great way to ensure a future of safe, efficient, effective and sustainable UVM. We welcome your ideas and participation, and encourage you to reach out to any of the executive committee members through our website (www.utilityarborist.org).
President of the Utility Arborist Association