Julie Mullis from Deep Gap has a question for Carolina Curious:

"Why are the power line tree cutting crews not trained to cut invasive trees like the Callery pear since they’re out there anyway with their equipment?"

Minor Barnette is not a tree cutter, but he does direct the Forsyth County Office of Environmental Assistance and Protection.

The bulk of his department’s mission is implementation of the Clean Air Act — protecting air quality, monitoring pollution and regulating emissions. But he also administers county ordinances governing things like solid waste transportation and disposal, recycling collection and operating the county’s three recycling convenience centers.

Barnette has lived in Winston-Salem for 36 years, and he knows some stuff.

"I think that if she asked the utility service provider, they would probably say that that crew has pretty specific instructions to cut trees and limbs within a certain distance of the power line," says Barnette. "And that's their purpose. And because they're getting paid to maintain hundreds of miles of corridor, it's probably not practical for them to say, ‘Well, while we're here, let's go ahead and get a couple more that would be good to cut down because somebody doesn't like them, or because they're invasive.’ And so, while they're there, they're not there for the greater good of the world and the ecosystem, and in a general sense. They're there for a specific purpose to protect the power transmission corridor so customers don't lose power during weather events like thunderstorms, ice and snow, those kinds of things."

Barnette adds that any property owner in Forsyth County has the right to maintain their trees. That includes the removal of invasive species for the greater good of the surrounding community. He says invasive plants — as the name implies — tend to spread and displace naturally occurring native species.

You can find out more about invasive species in the Piedmont and High Country at the North Carolina Environmental Education and Public Affairs office

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