Few indicators of spring’s arrival are more reliable than an Upper Northwest arboreal throwdown. In this year’s installment, more than two dozen Chevy Chase, D.C., residents have taken to local Internet groups and community meetings to protest Pepco’s overzealous pruning habits. In 2004, a Pepco plan to ax 13 dying trees in nearby Barnaby Woods was foiled when residents hired a Resistograph-wielding arborist to prove that several of the trees were in fact healthy. That affair yielded an agreement between PEPCO and the local advisory neighborhood commission (ANC) that the utility would “follow national standards” when trimming trees—which, some residents say, Pepco contractors are not following. On March 12, a resident fired off the first complaint to the local e-mail discussion group. By the next evening, sufficient hell had been raised that the ANC drafted a letter demanding Pepco stop its excessive cutting. Mary-Beth Hutchinson, a Pepco spokesperson, says the residents are overreacting. “Some folks in that part of the city have different priorities than ours. Our first priority is the safety and reliability of our system,” she says. The resident who started the uprising is now having second thoughts about her leading role and asks for anonymity: “I’m scared the Pepco people will come by and chop down my trees.”—Ryan Grim