Having noticed my series of outraged posts about the utterly needless approval by the City of Salem of a US Bank request to remove five large trees in front of the bank building in downtown Salem, recently someone sent me a photo of the Ellis Island National Monument in Upper New York Bay.
The photo was found via Google Maps. Since it was rather blurry, here's a similar photo I found on Google Images.
Do you see all of the large, leafy, beautiful trees in front of historic buildings?
If Ellis Island was transported into downtown Salem and transformed into a US Bank branch, bank president Alan Allbritton would have asked to have them cut them down. And City of Salem Public Works director would have allowed this, even though the City's Shade Tree Committee and expert arborists would have advised otherwise.
Thankfully, the federal government has more sense than the City of Salem and US Bank. Plus, there aren't any political shenanigans Involved with the Ellis Island trees.
US Bank claimed that five beautiful Japanese Zelkova trees needed to be killed because they cut off sightlines to a building in Salem's Historic District. However, nothing in Salem's tree ordinance (Chapter 86) talks about criteria for removing trees there -- only planting trees there.
So Fernandez and Allbritton made stuff up to get around the plain fact that there was no good reason, none at all, to cut down the trees. They also seemingly lost the ability to understand simple English, such as the familiar word "prune."
(The thrice-repeated recommendation of the Shade Tree Committee, should any problems with the size of the trees be apparent.)
I took this photo before three of the five Zelkovas were cut down.
This was an unjustified murder of three innocent trees. Hopefully more innocent blood sap won't be shed from the remaining two trees, saved from the initial slaughter by baby birds sheltering in their branches.
Historic buildings can coexist with beautiful large trees. There are plenty of examples of this elsewhere in downtown Salem, as on Ellis Island. Unfortunately, politics trumped sound decision-making in this case.
"This was an unjustified murder of three innocent trees. Hopefully more innocent blood sap won't be shed from the remaining two trees"-Don't you "murder" weeds or other plants you dig up on your property? According to your logic we're all enabling Mass-murderers for using tree corpse products(paper & wood) Sorry if this sounds harsh, but Brian you've become a caricature of the tree-hugging environmentalist.
Posted by: DJ Woods | May 10, 2013 at 11:16 AM
DJ Woods, a friend read your comment and emailed me these thoughts:
"His logic is flawed. He is comparing your zeal to one who also would forbid the cutting of trees for paper and other products. I think it's more of a comparison of sheep, cattle and hogs compared to a pet dog or cat - the US Bank trees being the 'pet' which gives the most benefits while living whereas farm animals are grown for food who's value results from their death - like trees grown for paper, lumber etc."
Nicely said. Here's some thoughts of my own:
I'm proud to be a tree-hugging environmentalist. Are you aware that without trees and other plants, you and I and every other human on the planet wouldn't exist?
I grew up in the foothills of the Sierras near Sequoia National Park. As a youth I spent a lot of time with the giant Sequoias. Have you seen them? Or the redwoods? Do you feel anything other than "it would be great to cut these down for paper and wood?"
Some people have a sense of the "sacred" (I'm not religious; am using this word in a different sense) when they feel close to nature. Growing up in a rural community, and still living in a rural area south of Salem, I always have felt that sense.
Maybe you haven't. I'm not judging. Everybody is different. If you look at a beautiful tree and think "cut it down for paper products," that's the truth of who you are. Me, I feel differently.
On a less poetic front, the US Bank trees were planted with taxpayer money on a public street some forty years ago. I've seen an estimate that each would cost $20,000 or so to replace. So when US Bank got permission to cut down five trees, there went $100,000 of taxpayer value. Public trees cut down at the request of a big bank for no good reason.
This offends me. Big banks have done a lot of harm to the nation's economy. Now US Bank has taken a big hit out of downtown Salem's "tree economy." Studies have shown that more people visit businesses on attractive tree-lined streets. Maybe banks aren't affected in the same way.
Regardless, a responsible member of the downtown Salem business community would have taken into consideration how its actions on a public right of way, on a public street, concerning valuable trees planted and maintained by taxpayer money, affected other businesses.
In fact, quite a few downtown business owners stated their opposition to cutting down the trees. As did arborists and the City's own urban forester.
This was a political decision. Three trees, maybe five, were killed for no good reason. If being offended by this makes me a "caricature of the tree-hugging environmentalist," I'm proud to embrace that description.
Posted by: Brian Hines | May 10, 2013 at 03:37 PM
Have you considered starting a petition on www.change.org.? I'm sure many will sign and a wider audience might well rattle the bank and their city hall friends.
Posted by: Dungeness | May 11, 2013 at 11:35 PM
Good idea, Dungeness. I've considered this vaguely, but would definitely pursue it if US Bank cuts down the remaining two trees.
As you suggested, I'd start up a Change.org petition calling on US Bancorp nationally to stop cutting down beautiful healthy trees for no good reason, throwing in mention of the migrating birds that no longer will be able to nest in the trees.
There's a lot of tree and bird lovers in this country. I'll leave it up to the US Bancorp marketing department to determine whether there are enough tree-haters and bird-haters to compensate for the customers they'll lose on the "loving" side.
Posted by: Brian Hines | May 13, 2013 at 11:10 AM