It Takes a Fool to Destroy a Tree

The Trump golf course Potomac shoreline

The Trump golf course Potomac shoreline

While Joyce Kilmer said, “only God can make a tree,” he did not consider those fools who destroy these trees with glee.

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.

But there are many who will cut down a tree without a second thought.

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 the President of the United States, Donald Trump, in 2010, cut 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.

A fair question is how did that happen.

Soil and water technicians discouraged approval.

County Officials told Trump to start his chain saws.

Now, once again Trump National Golf Course is in the news for cutting and disposing of another dozen mature trees thrown into the Potomac River on or about February 23rd.

If you think there are different rules for different people, then plainly there are different rules.

What is the County prepared to do, fine Trump National a measly $600?  Big deal.

Steve McKone, the director of the Calleva River School found a dozen stumps 14 to 24 inches in width in the Potomac.

Phillip Musegaas, of the Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Phillip Musegaas, of the Potomac Riverkeeper Network

Phillip Musegaas of the Potomac Riverkeeper Network said, “We’d like to see the county require them to replant the trees – that seems like a reasonable correction.”

Now there’s a picture, the big guy, “the Donald,” re-planting the trees himself.

Of course, plainly, Phillip is unfamiliar with the flexible principles of this Board when it comes to protecting our natural resources.