About three dozen communities in Knox, Waldo, and Hancock Counties are among about 200 cities and towns in central and southern Maine to benefit from Central Maine Power Co.’s (CMP) tree care program during the second half of 2011. The work along utility lines is part of a $25 million annual vegetation management program to improve the reliability of its transmission and distribution lines.

“We have more than 23,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines, and along much of it, trees are growing toward the wires or at risk of falling down on them,” said CMP spokesman John Carroll. “Contact with vegetation is the most frequent cause of blinking clocks and power outages, so customers should see better reliability as the crews trim along the roadsides in their towns.”

CMP trims along one-quarter of its transmission lines and one-fifth of its distribution lines each year. In the coming weeks, the company’s contractors will continue to trim trees along distribution lines in Appleton, Belfast, Belmont, Brooks, Bucksport, Camden, Castine, Cushing, Dixmont, Frankfort, Friendship, Hampden, Islesboro, Jackson, Knox, Lincolnville, Monroe, Montville, Morrill, Northport, Orland, Owls Head, Prospect, Rockland, Rockport, Searsmont, Searsport, South Thomaston, St. George, Stockton Springs, Swanville, Thomaston, Union, Waldo, Waldoboro, Warren, and Winterport.

CMP contracts with professional arborists who are required to follow practices established by the International Society of Arboriculture. These include consideration for the health, shape, strength, growth rate, and appearance of trees before and after pruning. CMP notifies customers about its vegetation management activities every year with inserts in its bills.