Contributed by June S. MacArthur
OSWEGO, NY – In the city of Oswego too many city trees are being cut down in neighborhoods, not because they are diseased or a hazard, but because they’re in the way of someone wanting more parking spaces.
City trees don’t belong just to the owner of the property. Those trees are part of the community or Urban Forestry.
As the co-founder of the Oswego Tree Stewards, I’ve learned a number of facts about trees I’d like to talk to you, the public, about.
An informed public can help save the city’s trees.
Trees are major capital assets, just like the streets, sidewalks, public buildings and recreational facilities are part of a community’s infrastructure, according to www.coloradotrees.org/benefits.htm
Trees offer us many benefits such as improving our air quality, protecting our water, saving energy, increasing real estate values and sociological benefits, extend the life of paved surfaces, add aesthetic value and many more things that would nod you off to sleep if I wrote it all down here.
I want to give you a few examples:
When my husband, Phil, and I planted seven trees on our block between the sidewalk and the street we increased the city’s assets, as well as the value of our home and all of our neighbors. Trees increase real estate values.
Those seven trees are now owned by the city as all street trees are. Those trees will increase the city’s tree canopy and will increase the city’s capital assets. Trees increase city capital assets.
We’re all watching those trees becoming bigger and more beautiful every year. Phil trims and maintains them so they don’t get into the lines, nor will they have to be massacred by the power company later on. Many different kinds of birds have returned to our neighborhood and we get to watch the antics of these birds and the squirrels. Trees increase aesthetic value to our life.
When we sit outside on our porch and watch the rains come down, those trees soak up much of the water and help hold the water which keeps our grass and flowers greener during dry periods like we’ve had the past few weeks. I notice how the people who have no street tree in their yard have burnt brown grass, desperate for water. Trees help protect our water supply.
Sometimes we sit on the grass under the trees and talk with the neighbors’ kids, they’re curious and want to learn how to care for their trees and plants. Or we stand on the sidewalks talking with other neighbors or walkers that we’ve come to know. We know the names of the dogs and cats in the neighborhood. We discuss what vegetable plants and flowers each of us like or are growing and we compare recipes for vertical cucumbers or wax beans. Trees increase sociologic benefits.
Every Labor Day weekend our block has a reception for the new college girls in the college house across the street. We hold it in the gravel driveway between two homes and the sidewalks under the trees. This year we’ve another rental house where one of our elderly neighbors died. We’ve already told them about this party and they’re amazed and looking forward to it. Trees increase the capability for sociologic benefits.
We made the mistake of putting our bedroom in the front of the house so the noise in the night was horrible the first year, drunks, loud talking and screaming people from midnight until long after the bars were closed and the kids stumbled home.
But now, with all the trees between us and the road there has been a noticeable decrease in the night human and car noises. I also wonder if the students realize that we’re more of a neighborhood and respect that? Trees increase sociologic benefits.
We can’t remove these trees we planted five years ago because the city and the neighborhood have an invested interest in them now.
So for anyone to want to remove a 60- to 100-year-old tree that hasn’t any disease or isn’t a hazardous tree is affecting the whole city as well as his neighborhood. It’s time we stood up to these people who are “Tearing down a tree and putting up a parking lot.”
If you see someone doing that, call up your neighbors, your alderman, the media and city hall! We need to bring back the tree beauty that this city once had.