Steve Chittock

City Council needs local support in several ways to save trees

The state bureaucracy grinds on without regard for local concerns. A state court bureaucrat has decreed that the courthouse's irreplaceable cypress trees must come down, and has invoked the "L-word" (liability) in order to trump any arguments against their removal. The state wants to remove them before the upcoming rainy season.

Consulting arborists have been asked, not how to save the trees, but whether they pose a potential danger of falling limbs in their current condition. Few consultants would produce a report that doesn't support what the client wants to hear, and no arborist is going to guarantee that any tree is not subject to damage in our fierce winter storms.

Recognizing the bias of the consultants' reports and the community value of those "heritage trees," our City Council took an important step on Monday night in representing local interests against the state behemoth - by voting 4-0 to instruct staff to ask the state to defer immediate removal of those trees until a plan to save some or all of them could be explored locally.

This was a bold action, since it is likely that local jurisdictions will need to step up to a) the cost of immediate and continuing restorative actions, and b) some potential liability.

Our City Council needs local support in several ways:

We should call on the Board of Supervisors to join the Council immediately in a) opposing the tree removal until options to save them have been explored, and (b) pledging reasonable financial support to a restoration program.

Our local tree service specialists need to weigh in quickly with ideas on how to save as many trees as possible.

Our environmental groups, through their networks, need to pressure the state to take a more imaginative approach to saving the trees.

Our local judges need to use their court system channels to let the bureaucracy know that removal is not the desired outcome.

Individually, we need to contact our state representatives (Mr. Chesbro will be here later this week) to intervene on behalf of saving the trees. Letters to the San Francisco and Sacramento papers also might be useful.

Finally, if any "tree sitters" want to sign up, now's the time (just kidding).

Now that we're a "Pretty Town," let's see if we can keep it that way.

Bill Lonsdale

Crescent City