Forestry


Tree Trimming Near Power Lines

Trees near Consumers Energy power lines are the responsibility of Consumers Energy to maintain. If a tree has fallen onto power lines or branches are touching power lines please call 911 first then immediately call Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050.

For information regarding the Consumers Energy tree trimming  process, FAQ's please visit the the trees and power lines link.  To contact Consumers Energy regarding trimming or removals of trees in private easements or public right-of-way, please visit the contact tree management link or contact a Grand Rapids area forestry planner by calling Consumers Energy at 616-530-4306.

Consumers Energy is regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC). To review more information related to the regulation of private utilities including gas, electrical, and video/cable or telephone service complaints, please visit the inquiries and complaints link. The MPSC can also be reached at 800-292-9555.

If Consumers Energy has trimmed or removed trees in a private utility easement or in the public right-of-way adjacent to your home, please place it out in accordance with the city yard waste composting service and the Department of Public Works will pick it up on your service day.

Tree Planting Program

The city has an annual tree planting program available to residents who are interested in sharing the cost of a new tree to be planted in the out-lawn area (between the sidewalk and the street) of their home.  Orders are taken throughout the year, with October 1 being the deadline for placing an order. Payment is due by Friday of the first full week in October.

The cost for each tree is shared between the homeowner and the city, with each party paying for half the average unit price bid for the trees. Bids are taken by the city in September of each year, while planting takes place generally during the months of October and December.

Download Tree Planting Program Order Form

Comparison spreadsheet of available trees

Please contact 616-940-4817 for more information on this program.

Types of Trees

The types of trees currently being offered for planting in the out-lawn are as follows:   

These trees are perfect under utility lines and in smaller outlawn areas: 

Chanticleer Pear:  A profusion of flowers in the spring, simple oval leaves that are dark green in the summer, turning orange to gold-red to red-purple in the fall.  Yields hard pea-sized to 1/" fruit that is brownish or russet colored which persists into the winter. Medium growth rate.  Mature height of 35-40 feet.  

Autumn Brilliance Juneberry:  Forms a dense, oval habit and produces masses of spring flowers that open light pink and turn white; produces purplish-black fruit which the birds love; dramatic fall color of orange, red and yellow.  Fast growing.  Mature height of 15-20 feet.

Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn:  Clusters of white flowers in the spring, followed by dark red berries; rounded glossy green leaves which turn bright yellow to orange in the fall.  Fast growing.  Mature height:  15-25 feet.

Japanese Tree Lilac: Clusters of foot-long, white, fragrant flowers in early summer.  After flowers fade, the tree produces seed capsules that attract songbirds.  Mature height 15 – 30 feet.

 

These trees must not be planted under utility lines.  The outlawn must be greater than 48 inches in width:

Greenspire Linden:  Tiny yellow, fragrant flowers appear in early summer and small, heart-shaped green leaves which turn yellow in fall.  Fairly fast growing.  Mature height 30 -50 feet.

Gingko:  Distinct, beautiful tree.  Fan-shaped bright green leaves that turn a stunning yellow in the fall.  Grows at a medium rate.  Mature height 25 – 50 feet.

Tulip Tree:  Leaves are 3-6" long with distinctive lobes, flat base and two ear-like tips turning vibrant yellow in the fall. Tulip-shaped flowers with greenish-yellow petals with a splash of orange at the base.  Attractive shape and interesting reddish bark with white markings provide year –round interest. Fast growing.  Mature height:  70 – 90 feet.

Green Vase Zelkova:  A graceful shape, clean foliage, attractive bark.  Oblong green leaves turn to yellow in fall, but can be a bronzy red in dry weather.  Fast growing, somewhat wide spreading.  Mature height:  60 – 80 feet.

Skyline Locust:  Deep dark green leaves persist late in fall turning to yellow-green.  Produces a few pods infrequently.  Vigorous grower with a straight trunk and graceful ascending branches.  Mature height: 60-70 feet.

New trees cannot be planted where a tree was recently removed because of the root mass still under ground.

In 2016, the City hired Davey Resources to complete an inventory of all trees along city streets and in parks and natural areas.  The inventory will allow the city to care for the existing trees and to strategically plan for future planting and maintenance.

Tree Maintenance Program

In 2016 the City of East Grand Rapids completed a tree inventory and risk assessment of approximately all 7,200 trees in the public right-of-way and developed a targeted preventative maintenance approach to managing the public right-of-way tree canopy. Similar to the sidewalk replacement program, target areas within the City are designated for an in depth assessment and subsequent appropriate treatments. Progress in each zone is limited to budgeted funds.

In 2022, right-of-way tree pruning will take place throughout the months of March and April in cycle 1 or Mondays yard waste-compost route (see program progress map below). City contractor Good Earth Tree Care will remove and clean up limbs and branches that are removed as part of the pruning process. Certified arborists and foresters target cycle areas of the City for preventative maintenance pruning services. 

The City still manages right-of –way trees outside of the target area based on reported concerns and street view assessments.

2022 Tree Maintenance Cycle Map

Outside Contractors

When necessary, the city contracts with a tree care company for any problem trees that are not within the area that is currently being targeted. The contractor provides the city with the expertise of a certified arborist capable of assessing tree conditions and making recommendations to save or remove trees.
 
This arborist provides consultation to the city on an as-needed basis for such items as Dutch elm disease, emerald ash borer, spongy moths, and overall tree health and condition.

Reporting Trees for Maintenance

Please report the following to the Public Works Department:

  • Diseased trees, or suspected diseased trees
  • Low-hanging branches or other unsafe conditions

Spongy Moth Information

Over the last several years, areas of West Michigan have experienced an increase in spongy moth (formerly known as the gypsy moth) population. The larvae (caterpillars) of this invasive pest feed on a variety of trees, but prefer oak trees. In areas with a high concentration of spongy moths, entire tree canopies may be impacted, but most healthy trees recover. In recent years, the spongy moth population has been naturally controlled by disease that attacks the caterpillars. Dry springs in 2016 and 2017 and to some extent 2020, have likely limited the spread of natural disease pressure, allowing spongy moth populations to grow.

Neighbors have reported spongy moth in several locations around East Grand Rapids. While the pest is present and can be found in normal years, it becomes an obvious nuisance as populations build. Most healthy deciduous trees will recover from caterpillar feeding, but significant loss of needles on conifers (e.g. pines, spruces) may require the attention of an arborist. Generally, spongy moth populations naturally decline due to disease within 1-3 years of an infestation peak. But local weather patterns, climate change, and other factors can cause longer outbreaks.

The City’s forestry experts have been monitoring the location and severity of regional spongy moth activity. Based on high caterpillar feeding activity and defoliation of trees over subsequent years in two outbreak pockets, the City implemented an aerial spray application of Bacillus thuringiensis var. Kurstaki (BtK) in the Spring of 2019. Natural diseases and the treatment successfully reduced the density of spongy moth activity. The City continues to monitor these areas for follow up treatment to protect tree health, if necessary. Constant reliance on treatment can limit the effectiveness of natural control on spongy moth (e.g. disease, predation).

Residents often ask, “what can we do to help reduce the moth infestation?”

By the end of June, the caterpillars are almost done feeding, so limited options are available. However, later in the summer, spongy moths will be laying new egg masses. Residents are encouraged to scrape egg masses into buckets of soapy water to help control the population.

In the spring, residents can apply a sticky tape or band specifically designed for insect control to the base of trees. This tape limits a caterpillar’s ability to crawl up the tree. If you see dead or dying caterpillars on a tree, leave them in place. They may be infected with a virus or fungus. Leaving these caterpillars in place will help ensure the disease spreads to other caterpillars.

Otherwise, please report any large concentrations of spongy moth to the City. The City’s forestry expert periodically inspects moth/caterpillar feeding trends and conducts egg mass surveys in the winter, as necessary, to determine likely population outbreaks. These surveys inform outreach and treatment strategies.

For more information on spongy moth and control options, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Will spongy moths kill my tree?

Healthy deciduous trees are likely to recover even after losing significant amounts of leaves. However, unhealthy trees may decline or die after severe impact. Significant needle loss of conifers can also be problematic, as these trees have a more difficult time recovering. You should contact a local arborist to examine any trees with which you are concerned.

Q: Can I do something to control spongy moths?

By the end of June, caterpillars are almost done feeding so there are limited effective controls. For trees with which you are concerned (e.g. trees in poor health, conifers), contact a local arborist (http://www.isa-arbor.com) for treatment options.

In late summer, caterpillars lay their eggs. These cream-colored splotches may show up in wood piles, on houses or the underside of tree branches. You can scrape these egg masses into a bucket of soapy water to help control the number of moths next year. Next spring, you can apply a sticky tape specifically designed for moth control to the base of trees to help control the movement of caterpillars. If you see dead or dying caterpillars at the base of a tree, leave them in place. They may be infected with a fungus or virus that is helping to kill spongy moth caterpillars. Leaving them in place may help infect other caterpillars and control the population.

Q: Is the City planning to spray?

The city has been monitoring the existence of Spongy Moth within the southwest part of the city throughout 2022 and its contractor has recommended against aerial spraying.

Spraying must be done in the spring, when caterpillars initially emerge. Inclement weather can significantly limit the effectiveness of spray programs. Moreover, spray treatments may not always be appropriate as the pesticides used can impact all Lepidoptera insects, which includes moths and butterflies. In many cases, spongy moth populations naturally decline in 1-3 years of an infestation’s peak due to disease naturally present in the ecosystem.

To avoid impacts to non-target insects and allow natural disease pressure to build up within the spongy moth population, the city is applying treatment only when spongy moth outbreaks are expected to significantly impact tree health. Each year, the City’s forestry expert examines outbreaks to determine how trees are reacting to feeding pressure and to make estimates of expected populations. This data is used to determine when and if the City should apply treatment to a particular outbreak pocket. Otherwise, residents are encouraged to work with their arborist to evaluate treatment options for individual trees or groups of trees that may better control spongy moth on private properties.

The intent of the spray treatment is to offer relief from those trees that have been significantly impacted by multiple years of defoliation. Therefore, the treatment area is not based on the presence of caterpillars, but rather how heavily the caterpillars are impacting tree health. While evidence of caterpillars is present in many locations, the trees were not as severely impacted as those within the treatment area. Property owners outside of the targeted area may still implement their own treatment options such as the use of tree bands, injection spikes, or ground level spraying.

Below you will find links to a map of the effected area, a letter that was sent out to residents within that area, and further information by MSU-Extension and other governmental agencies related to Spongy Moth. If you have questions or comments, please contact the Public Works Administration office.

Spongy Moth FAQ
Map of Affected Area
MSU-Extension Information
MSU Btu Treatment Information Sheet
MDNR Spongy Moth Bulletin
MSU-Extension Spongy Moth Outbreak Update 8/22/2019

Information and materials related to Spongy Moth Management in East Grand Rapids for 2022:

Information and materials related to Spongy Moth Management in East Grand Rapids for 2021:

Information and materials related to Spongy  Moth management in East Grand Rapids for 2020:

Information and materials related to Spongy Moth management in East Grand Rapids for 2019 :