While Joyce Kilmer said, “only God can make a tree,” he did not consider those fools who destroy these trees with glee.
In my home town of Lovettsville, Tree City USA, VDOT destroyed a 95 year old Maple tree, with leaves no lower than 10 feet above the ground.
The reason, they said, was to make a bike path 8 feet wide, when the distance from the base of the tree to the roadway where the path would be placed was 16 feet, twice the width of the path.
They destroyed a majestic Maple for no good reason – as VDOT does characteristically treat trees as “inconvenient” – for VDOT is of the school of dig and destroy.
Susan Clark said, “It was a perfectly good tree and they cut it at ground level.”
Briana N. Edelman said, “Why does everyone feel the need to cut down trees? Trees provide shade, cooling, prevent erosion, hold sentimental and historical value, clean the air, house birds, insects, animals….among so many other things.”
Trees also produce the oxygen we breathe. Some think that’s important.
When trees abut a stream or river, their root system holds the bank together, reducing erosion, and curtails the runoff of the killing chemicals, pesticides and herbicides, acting as a natural system of filters restraining pollutants.
Our problem is not, however, a single tree that once grew in Lovettsville.
We have an epidemic of foolishness beyond VDOT’s serial violations, among developers, and prominent individuals who prefer a “scenic view” over what is environmentally conscientious.
When you combine a prepossessing man of wealth with arrogance, stewardship of water evaporates.
Dan Snyder, of the local football franchise, offered $25,000 to the National Park Service, some 15 years ago, so he could remove more than 130 mature trees over 50,000 square feet of hillside tilting from his home and $12 million estate toward the Potomac River. Snyder chose a majestic view, caring not at all about how he compromised the purity of the Potomac. Snyder enjoyed access to top officials, according to an Inspector General’s Report, while the public was given no opportunity to object at a hearing before the trees were cleared. Afterwards, Snyder was required to pay $37,000 to a tree bank to purchase and protect three acres elsewhere in the County, to replant the deforested land, and put an additional five acres of his property in a protective easement.
Another arrogant landowner, just two miles away from the Snyder estate, Robert J. Stevens, the former CEO of Lockheed Martin, with a severance package of $25.3 million, had to pay a measly (for him) $1,000 fine to Montgomery County for cutting a large, barren, opening visible from some distance away. Mr. Stevens cut down oak, beech and black gum, some reportedly 80 feet tall and more than a 100 years old.
Hedrick Belin, the President of the Potomac Conservancy, said that destroying these trees doesn’t just “worsen water quality for thousands of outdoor enthusiasts who fish, paddle, run and bike along the Potomac.” Mr. Belin points out that the polluted runoff has “a negative effect on the nearly 5 million people – more than 85 percent of area residents – whose drinking water comes from the Potomac.”
New York developer, casino mogul, and Republican Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump, has invaded Loudoun County. He has exceeded the misconduct of other offenders, by cutting down 465 trees along a mile and a half of the Potomac shore line, bordering his country club’s golf course.
The pesticides and herbicides are pouring off “the Donald’s” golf course into the Potomac and down river into faucets.
The Potomac Conservancy is right that Mr. Trump must make amends. But more than that, down home, we need a diagnostic on how this happened at all. Soil and water technicians discouraged approval. County Officials told Trump to start his chain saws. New Yorker Trump contributed to Loudoun County Board Chairman Scott York’s campaign. We need an investigation how the County licensed Mr. Trump to compromise the Potomac River.