Trees around Florida are being chopped because of new federal regulations

Electric companies complying with new regulations

Al Lopez Park in Tampa looked like the aftermath of a tornado on Monday.
 
Broken tree branches scattered the ground. Tree stumps were all that remained of giant trees.
 
"It’s upsetting because it's nature. It's natural," said Jennifer Mansfield, who visits the park weekly.
 
The mess wasn't from a storm. It was made intentionally as workers prune and remove trees in the name of safety.
 
"I would rather not see them do it. I would rather the trees stay up," another park visitor said.
 
Tampa Electric is responsible for cutting down the trees, complying with new federal regulations enacted by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. If TECO doesn't comply, they could be looking at fines of up to $1 million per day.
 
The new regulations are forcing utility companies to cut down and prune trees all across Florida, even in your own backyard.
 
"We hate to have to remove trees, but we're obligated to comply with the new federal standards," TECO spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said.
 
The stricter standards mean utility companies must remove all trees and vegetation within 25 feet of high-voltage transmission lines.
 
The rules are meant to help protect America's power grid from suffering a major outage.
 
"We have a team of arborists who everyday wrestle with the decision to balance the aesthetics and the beauty of the trees with the safety and reliability of electricity," Jacobs said.
 
"It's fine as long as it doesn't take down the whole nature aspect of the park," Mansfield said.
 
TECO is working with the City of Tampa on a replacement plan, but until then trees deemed to be in the way of large transmission lines will no longer be part of the landscape at Al Lopez Park.
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