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Trees along Main Street and Pelham Road in Amherst to start coming down

AMHERST e_SEmD Western Massachusetts Electric Co. is expected to start cutting down trees deemed hazardous to overhead wires on Main Street and Pelham Road.

The work, which was expected to begin by Jan. 1, will include removal of trees in the right of way, and, with permission from residents, many that are privately owned.

“This is starting the removal of trees likely to fail,” said Tree Warden Alan Snow.

Snow has met several times with WMECO arborist Calvin Layton to examine trees in the right of way and determine those with cavities, decay and poor branch structure that should be removed as soon as possible. Snow said he gave permission for 15 town trees to come down, but not every tree that WMECO sought to remove.

The biggest changes will come in the street’s canopy.

“People will notice a difference; many sugar maples, red maples at the end of their lives will be gone,” Snow said.

Many are trees that the town should remove. Due to a lack of resources, Snow said, the town is unable to take them down in a timely fashion.

While similar to a summer project in which WMECO did so-called “enhanced tree trimming” on South East Street, Snow said this project removes entire trees.

The Public Shade Tree Committee has twice led walks for residents on the corridor and in advance of the work sent letters to residents reminding them that there will be changes and that they can choose not to have some trees cut: “Please be advised that you have the right, as a property owner, to refuse to have a tree taken down in your yard. The Amherst Public Shade Tree Committee can assist you in determining whether a tree is a public or private tree, and can also refer you to local consulting arborists who can determine the health or hazardousness of trees in your yard.”

Snow said some of the trees lost in the cutting will be replaced by the town’s two-year plan to plant 2,000 new trees.

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