Weekly Feature

2006-12-27 / Letters to the Editor

Trees are loved by their owners

In the Dec. 20 tree disaster meeting at the Amherst Museum, Deputy Highway Superintendent Joe Speth told us that the town trees — those between the sidewalk and the curb — were our trees, that they belong to the citizens of Amherst collectively.

He backed that statement with the pledge that if anyone has a tree with an orange ribbon around it in front of his house and particularly wants to save that tree, he is willing to talk and possibly compromise.

Arborist Rick Stedman stated that many of our town trees have to be taken down because they are damaged beyond their ability to survive and are a danger to traffic. So far, hanging branches have been trimmed away and trees that need further evaluation have been tagged with orange ribbons. Arborists will prescribe pruning or removal depending on the percentage of crown surviving, the condition of the trunk and the species of the tree.

The rule of thumb will be that a tree with less than 30 to 50 percent of its crown gone and in good shape otherwise, will not be taken down. The Tree Emergency Manual for Public Officials developed by Cornell Cooperative Extension in Rochester uses 50 percent of crown loss as its guideline of survivability and says some trees may survive with up to 75 percent loss. Our rule leans toward safety rather than aesthetics, but this variance of expert opinion leaves room for negotiation.

If you have a particularly beloved tree in your front yard and it is wearing an orange ribbon, call Joe Speth now. Don't wait until someone shows up with a chain saw. Call now. You might want to consult your own arborist first.

Larry Beahan Forestry Chair

Sierra Club Niagara Group

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