Hey, Inman Park! How About a New Tree?

Each winter, Tree Watch plants 50 to 60 new trees in Inman Park. We plant in sidewalk planting strips, and we plant in homeowners’ yards, front or back. We’ll be planting again this winter, exact date TBD.

Do you want a new tree or trees for your home?

Please fill out the contact form below, and we’ll be in touch with you to set up a consultation. We’ll even bring along a landscape architect/arborist from Trees Atlanta. You can meet us at your home, show us your property, and discuss your preferences with us.

(Note: if your new tree happens to be covered by an existing contract that Trees Atlanta is fulfilling, it may be that you’ll incur no cost at all. Otherwise, you’ll be invited to make a donation to defray some of the expense.)

Values

We have an excellent question to consider: “Can passion alone save trees?” As Neil mentioned, I’d like to make a short, preliminary comment now, and closer to the end of the session, offer a concrete suggestion.

Let me start by appealing to my other passion, namely, literature. “The Second Tree from the Corner” is the title of a wonderful short story by E. B. White, better known today as the author of the children’s classic book, Charlotte’s Web. At the conclusion of this particular story, a man has just left his psychiatrist’s office. At long last, he’s had an insight into the nature of his unhappiness, when he catches sight of a tree. Here’s how E. B. White describes it:

A small tree, rising between him and the light, stood there saturated with the evening, each gilt-edged leaf perfectly drunk with excellence and delicacy. [His] spine registered an ever so slight tremor as it picked up this natural disturbance in the lovely scene. “I want the second tree from the corner, just as it stands,” he said … And he felt a slow pride in realizing that what he wanted none could bestow, and that what he had none could take away.

Continue reading Values

Trees and Sidewalks

What the heck?

Yep, arborist Chris Hughes of Brookwood Tree Consulting was in the ‘hood yesterday. He was here at the invitation of Inman Park Tree Watch, in order to assess several trees in the path of our upcoming sidewalk renovation projects.

Here’s Chris with Peter Coyne of Oakview Landscape Construction, at the base of a lovely, mature American elm on Euclid Avenue. The goal? Get this sidewalk work done with minimal to no impact on nearby trees.

With guidance from Hughes and drawing on deep experience working around our trees in Inman Park, Coyne is able to pull all sorts of tricks from his sleeve: bridging over roots, skirting around them, and so on.

We’re so lucky to have professionals like Hughes and Coyne working in Inman Park! And we’re proud to have a thoughtful program in place to ensure that we do everything possible to protect the health and prolong the lives of our street trees.

In Which We Embark on Remarks about Parks

Community planner and parks guru Dee Merriam, late of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, was in the ‘hood on September 14 to give a presentation for us at the Trolley Barn.  “Making People Places” was her title.

Knowledge was had by all.

And now we gotta think about stuff like this, which Dee pointed out on her tour of Inman Park: (1) visibility issues, (2) problems with access points, and (3) too few reasons to go to our parks.

So, would it be nice eventually to have a path with seating areas along the western edges of Springvale Park? With proper clearance of understory plants and some limbing up of trees, think how pleasant it could be to sit with a friend and look down into our little gem of a park.

We have so much maintenance to do! Who would know that behind this dense wall of green is a beautiful and historic park?

What safety-conscious person would venture into this Continue reading In Which We Embark on Remarks about Parks

320 N. Highland Avenue

Crossposted from Nextdoor:

TREES at 320 N. Highland

The following info is taken from the rezoning plans that Zachary Dussault posted for this project. It’s meant to serve as an object lesson for Inman Park neighbors, with respect to the blind spots and weaknesses of our current tree protection ordinance.

17 trees are to be removed from this site in the heart of Inman Park’s business district. All are native to Georgia. They include an oak tree that (measured in inches of diameter at 4.5 feet from the ground) is 37 caliper inches. (I cannot speak to its current health at this time, as I am out of town.)

5 additional trees will suffer impact. These include oaks that are 18 and 25 caliper inches. Whether they survive construction will be seen: with digging in a quarter to almost half of their root areas, and no requirement for post-construction tree care, e.g., irrigation, aeration, mulching, etc., the site may well lose additional trees in the year or two after construction, for which (to my knowledge) there is no requirement to replant or pay recompense.

14 trees are to be replanted along the streets and the parking ramp. None are over-story trees like the oaks, hickories, and sweet gums that will be destroyed to make room for this parking deck. Again, none of the new trees will actually replace in quality the trees they’re replacing.

Moreover, only 3 of the 14 are native trees. 11, that is, are non-native, including Chinese elms that have been reported to be invasive in the native forests of California, the Southwest, Texas, and some Southeastern states.

Please note well that the existing formula¹ used to determine the developer’s obligation to replant on site (or to pay for replanting elsewhere) does NOT distinguish between a 10″ diameter tree that might live 100+ years (like a slow-growing oak) and another that will be lucky to live half that number of years (like the fast-growing Chinese elms and medium-growth rate trident maples that the developer is proposing to plant in their place).

Because the developer’s obligation is not being fully met by replanting on site, $11,225 will be paid into the City of Atlanta’s Tree Trust Fund. This money may or may not defray the expense of planting trees elsewhere. Why? Because the fund is now being used to pay arborists’ salaries in the Bureau of Buildings, some administrative costs, stipends for community members of the Tree Conservation Commission, some educational materials, and (as of 2016) greenspace purchases.

(Note also that this $11,225 is to be paid into the fund despite the need for additional trees in the Inman Park sections of Freedom Park, which is adjacent to the site. In the past, this has been deemed a permissible practice, i.e., replanting not directly on site but nearby in city parks and along rights-of-way. I’m unclear at the moment whether there has been a change in that approach.)

Bottom line: the proposal is to remove native, over-story trees to make room (mostly) for parking, and we’re replacing those trees with an appreciably smaller number of shorter-lived, non-native (and arguably in some instances, invasive) substitutes — all of which the current City of Atlanta Tree Protection Ordinance allows.

Please keep an eye out for news about the consultant-led process (“Urban Ecology Framework”) that will produce a new ordinance. It should be gearing up this fall.

¹ $ = $100 [(# trees destroyed + # trees lost) – # trees replaced] + $30.00 [(DBH inches destroyed + DBH inches lost) – caliper inches replaced], where DBH = diameter at breast height.

The Future of Atlanta’s Urban Forest: Fourth in a Series

The previous installment in this series asserted that in the interest of fairness, when it comes to trees, we Atlantans should commit to hearing each other out.

Quite understandably, people who live among, near, and under trees have strong feelings about them. We love and fear them. They fill us with joy and exasperation. We value them for themselves alone; we value them for what they do for us; or maybe we don’t value them at all. Trees are an important aspect of what makes our city livable, many firmly believe; others worry that trees stand in the way of Atlanta ever becoming a “great” city, e.g., by acting as an impediment to achieving the population density typical of such places.

Fairness means that everyone who wants to have a say should have that opportunity, and what they say should be met with open minds and hearts.

The foregoing does not mean, however, that every opinion is equally valid.

On the contrary.

And here again fairness is key. Some visions of the future Atlanta are going to be better than others because they come closer to a perfect balancing of all the many interests present in a major city like ours.

What interests should be taken into account? How do we recognize the moment when we’ve balanced them as well as we possibly can? These are questions for another day (and for smarter minds, too).

For the present, it’s enough to say this.  On this topic, fairness is impossible of achievement without acceptance of the fact that you “own” a tree only in the loosest sense of the word.

Why is that true? It’s true in the same sense that you cannot be permitted to “own” the air my children breathe or the water they drink. Or for that matter, the air and water that my great-grandchildren will one day breathe and drink.

Living as we do in a city, with responsibilities to each other and to future generations, we must give up the notion that we can do exactly as we please.

You can’t. You can’t do exactly as you please — in some cases, that’s going to be true no matter what price you’re able and willing to pay.

“Your” trees are “my” trees, too, after all. It’s only fair that I have a say in their fate, as you do in the fate of mine. Right?