Saturday, March 16, 2013

Warren, Ohio Mutilates Its Trees


As Arbor Day approaches in late April, the appreciation and stewardship of the city's urban  forest canopy is an abomination. The city allows the utility companies--and the tree trimming services which are commissioned--to perform a mutilation trim job on city trees causing them to eventually become weak, die, or need to be totally removed. Such is a waste of money and energy.

Worse, is what happens in private yards. Residents enlist the services of so called "tree experts" to take down trees yearly without taking responsibility of replacing any. I have to wonder just how many of these services employ a full time degreed, licensed, and certified Arborist. Or, are these mostly a bunch of guys who somehow got enough cash to buy some fancy equipment--and then suddenly proclaim themselves as "tree experts!" While it is understood that many trees need to be removed for either health compromises in the tree or potential safety hazards, many more completely healthy trees are removed which pose NO public safety threat or any other of any kind.

In the Genesee/Woodland area of the city I have monitored for the last decade, aside from trees hit by storms, or threatened by anything else--Or posing any threats whatsoever of falling onto a house--countless healthy native oak trees removed for the typical fear driven and sometimes frivolous decisions such as "I'm afraid it will fall on my house in a storm", "Roots get into my drains", 'It has ants," or the classic "Leaves are messy!" All of these concerns can be laid to rest with a simple preventative maintenance plan.

Have we forgotten the countless proven benefits of trees which far outweigh the unwarranted bad rap they receive? Do we cling to paranoia laced logic that now has neighborhood trees becoming public enemy number one--when the rare occasion (rare in contrast to how many DO NOT hit houses!) occurs that has a tree hitting a house after a storm?

The removal of trees in Warren, while none are replaced, is having many neighborhoods look like a bare, cheap, or dated development rather than the idyllic bucolic settings they once were. Trees add beauty and thus property value, prevent soil erosion, retain moisture in soil for healthy lawns in drought, shade, a place for kids to play or relax, clean the air, curb noise pollution, contribute to lower heating and cooling costs, serve as windbreaks and a refuge for harmless backyard friendly wildlife like birds or tree frogs(so they live there and NOT in your chimney!)--and the list goes on and on.

While many cities strive to plant more trees for promoting a more sustainable future, Warren residents and the city alike continue to employ hack artists to remove trees. These services could be wise (perhaps some already do the following) and secure their living for many years in the city of Warren by promoting their customers to save the tree so they can then offer a yearly routine tree preventative maintenance service. People already spend money hiring lawn chemical companies to dump countless gallons of toxic chemicals on their lawns yearly, so why not take on a more socially redeeming practice by seeing to the upkeep of the trees?
Tree services can secure continued repeat service through such a plan each year indefinitely.

They can achieve this plan by educating/reminding the customer on the many values trees provide and explain to them how a yearly service can prevent disease, improve the strength of the tree limbs, cost very little, and so on. This, as opposed to simply removing it altogether. Instead, it seems most of these services are riding that tidal wave of "the sky is falling" fear instilled in residents that results in a monkey see--monkey--do knee jerk reaction--whereby a tree cutting tirade ensues after a storm takes down branches of many trees that were poorly maintained in the first place--and perhaps, could have been prevented too! So many of these trees that are removed can easily be saved through some simple maintenance.

Instead of having trees to come back and service year after year, the current prevailing protocol of cut and remove by local tree services will result in no future repeat service for potential repeat clients. And, at the rate trees are removed in Warren while not developing any plan to replace them which could also educate and engage residents replacing them such a business will simply fade. 

Another interesting thought is that tree services, by offering a yearly maintenance and stewardship program, could possibly spend less in labor and energy costs, and thus, make a yearly service protocol on the same trees, more profitable and cost effective!

Progressive cities and towns across the country take care of their trees and promote planting more.  Just have a look at Savannah Georgia, for example, or the many "Tree City USA'S" across the nation and in even in Ohio. They seem to recognize the value of trees in the city. Look at the heritage oak trees in Savannah, a town right on Hurricane coast. You don't see people going into a shock wave of paranoia after a storm and then go on a tree cutting attack on healthy trees all over town. Maybe they do not  not let fear or ignorance govern their city tree policies like it appears to be the case in Warren by city and residents alike. Are they smarter than us down there or have we simply become too lazy to think of creative ways to care for our urban canopy?

So, as arbor day approaches, try and discover the benefits of  trees and the rewards in stewarding them in contrast to killing them. 150 years to grow by nature, 3 hours to destroy by the careless. Something to consider in a public environment that often has an allergy to any information that challenges the prevailing mentalities about trees in Warren.