Vegetation ManagementAgriculture
June 2012

Michigan tree trimmer uses compact equipment for distribution rights-of-way.

When clearing the strips of land along utility lines, or the rights-of-way, many contractors have struggled to find an efficient method of tree trimming. For open areas, manufacturers have developed large-scale mechanical trimmers equipped with saw blades mounted on long booms. But, for distribution lines in metropolitan areas and other confined spaces, contractors are caught in a tight spot-literally. Most resort to using chain saws and bucket trucks, slowly working their way down the line. For Kappen Tree Service, however, this approach wouldn’t work.

Based in Cass City, Mich., Kappen Tree Service has been clearing rights-of-way for 20 years. Today, it services 4,000 to 5,000 miles each year, depending on budgets. Kappen Tree Service holds contracts with multiple electric utilities for doing work along a variety of transmission, subtransmission and distribution lines.

Much of the contractor’s work started in the “thumb” of Michigan, where the landscape mainly consists of farmland and wood lots. Here it was easy for crews to get in and out with the seven large-scale mechanical trimmers in their fleet. Kappen Tree Service, however, eventually started getting distribution contracts farther south into the metropolitan Detroit area, where heavier traffic and smaller working areas limited the use of large equipment…

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