LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The clear-cutting of a lush, green common area along Antelope Creek in Lincoln has left area residents dismayed by the now-barren landscape.

Residents said they were blindsided when Lincoln Electric System piggy-backed on excavation work being done by Advanced Medical Imaging to clear-cut the trees in the system's right of way, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

The residents also said they're worried the system will continue to clear trees farther upstream. Joe Shandera, who heads the commons committee for the neighborhood association, said residents weren't notified before the clear-cutting began.

"They just showed up with their chain saws," Shandera said.

Homeowners who live near the creek and the system's transmission line get periodic letters informing them that the utility has a 70-foot right-of-way beneath the lines and can control the trees and plants in that area.

The utility worked with Advanced Medical Imaging, which was removing some trees in the area, according to Shana Sprackling of Lincoln Electric System. She said the utility coordinated efforts to clear dangerous trees and vegetation on Advanced Medical Imaging-owned property.

The utility stopped removing trees after hearing homeowners' concerns, Sprackling said. However, the utility plans to remove more trees under its transmission lines.

The system will not be "topping" trees anymore, because topping kills the tree and can put arborists' licenses in jeopardy, according to Sprackling.

She said that leaving trees in the right-of-way also makes it harder for the utility's employees to access power poles, and can present a fire hazard when objects fall during storms.

"Unfortunately, we have to (remove the trees)," she said. "We don't like doing it. That's why we have other programs where we plant trees in neighboring communities."

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com