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Trees missed

To the Editor:

Now that a week has passed since the death of the maple trees lining the Trombly School playground off Hally street, after my nausea and sleeplessness have passed, I think I can be more rational and try to understand what happened on February fourth. I'll try to comprehend the process of evaluation and the criteria used to decide the fate of the trees. I assume only good scientific research must have backed the decision, not hearsay, nor worst, the advice of the people involved in the business of cutting trees down.

The official pronouncement was "diseased and therefore fragile" making them a liability as observed after the ice storm. I was also told the maples were soft-wooded and ant-infested. The trees were too old to live anymore, 50 to 70 year -old silver maples need to be cut down. I was also told the trees didn't concern me, really none of my business. Of course, as I am writing this article, I am looking out at the stumps, wondering how such a statement could be made to me.

Diseased? What's the name of this disease? What condition results? Is this disease contagious to the other silver maples? How long does it take before a tree is too fragile to live? Were these and other questions answered before the decision  was made? Many elm and sycamore trees are also diseased in the Pointes. Maybe the city is derelict in not cutting all these trees down. Of the six trees cut down, one was felled by the heavy ice, one lost a large limb, the other four lost two small branches among them. How fragile were these latter trees? Considering the ice storm brought down a large number of trees and branches in the Pointes, one wonders how weak the four maple trees were. I know the two trees in front of my dining room windows were not diseased, nor fragile. The others are a matter of opinion.

Maples are usually considered hardwood, but many silvers do hollow and soften at the center of their limbs. A hazard, maybe. Were they ant infested? Maybe, but I have never seen any carpenter ant infestation. And I knew these trees up close, not from an armchair. Again, the two directly in front of me were not soft or hollowed.

How old does a tree need to be before it is cut down? They told me 50, or maybe 70 years old. These poor trees were considered not only diseased, but too old. It is tough being a silver maple. It is fated to live about fifty years and then be done away with after spending its life giving to us.

Are we so cavalier about what tree lives and what tree dies? Should not each tree deserve to be judged individually? The mentality of wholesale cutting of trees when one tree succumbs to the ice storm doesn't make much sense. Each tree should be evaluated on its own merits. The two trees directly in front of my house were not only healthy, but strong and vigorous trees. A terrible shame. Now I look out the window knowing those trees should be there. Never will I forget this day.

Roger Ten Hoopen

Grosse Pointe Park

Roger Ten Hoopen
February 28, 2002

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