Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We need a Street Tree Master Plan NOW!

Posting contributed by Ann Acheson

I am first and foremost a "victim" of the tree butchering that took place on S. Dutcher Street, but am also a Landscape Designer, ISA Certified Arborist, Member of the Irvington Tree Commission and an activist for coming up with a Street Tree Master Plan for the Village of Irvington.

The Callery pear right in front of my house was "v" cut yesterday, leaving only 2 leaders, one hanging over the street and one hanging over my house (its just down from the picture shown in the posting from yesterday - below - but looks even worse!). There are a couple of really serious problems with this "pruning" that have nothing do to with aesthetics: first, it is well accepted that Callery pear trees are "weak wooded" - meaning that all the major leaders emanate from a single crotch, making the junction between leaders and trunk unusually weak. This is why they regularly drop their branches, even under "normal" circumstances. Second, these trees don't drop their leaves until well into December. When we experience a wet snow or an ice storm in the beginning of winter, these trees still have all their leaves, which become laden with snow or ice and become heavy burdens on the weak crotch. Third, since these are "street trees", they have only about a 3' wide strip of soil for their root zones, bounded on one side by a cement sidewalk and the other by an asphalt street. Not a lot of space to get all your nutrients and oxygen when you're 30' tall! Consequently the Callery pears are in serious decline all along Dutcher Street. Now with the extreme pruning, the tree is being asked to heal numerous wounds, which means it will need to use even more of its already practically non-existent reserves.

These Callery pears need to be cut down! They aren't trees anymore, they are mis-shapen bare trunks! There are only 3 of them left on our street, all of which have been butchered and have no landscape value, no aesthetic value and are imminently going to drop leaders onto cars or my house this winter. It is incumbent upon the Village to remove these trees! If possible, they should have Con-Ed come back and do it right now!

This is an ugly situation re-occurring on street after street in our Village. Given the Con-Ed policy and the reasonable desire of everyone to have their power supply uninterrupted, I think the Village needs to come up with a policy NOW about all of their street trees. There are clearly a lot of trees that can stay in place, but there are many trees that need to be removed and/or replaced because there are no long term prospects for them to be healthy and beautiful in their current locations. Why do we have street trees? To add beauty, shade, and maintain the urban canopy. These trees can do NONE of those things!

We need to have a discussion about how to replace street trees - whose responsibility (homeowner or village), can there be shared responsibility, who takes care of the trees, who decides which tree, who plants the tree, who removes the stumps etc. Speaking for myself and my immediate neighbors, we would be happy to share the financial responsibility and take care of new trees - anything to alleviate the eyesores that now dominate the front of our homes!

Here's hoping most of the rest of you don't come home to bozo trees today!

- Ann Acheson (edited by -mg- from original email circulated today.)


-mg- said...

The stated purpose of pruning is to reduce outages. However, keep two facts in mind: 1) there has been no statistical analysis presented publicly which supports this assertion by Con Ed or anything which provides proof that the current clearance specs (10'x15'x10') in fact are required; and 2) the clearance crews are not trained arborists and thus do not differentiate between types of trees, strength or wood and other species-specific risk factors which would be useful in "tuning" the actual clearances required.

Anonymous said...

I thought trees needed CO2 rather than oxygen?

-mg- said...

The leaves need CO2 for photosynthesis, the roots need oxygen- which is one reason that trees can "drown" in too wet of soil (if they are not a wetlands species).