Letter writer James Lane fails to recognize that Columbia has a duty to protect people and property from being damaged by failing trees (“Columbia too aggressive in cutting trees,” June 6). I have worked with the staff of Columbia’s Forestry and Beautification Department for decades, and they are consummate professionals.
A defective tree in the forest is no risk since when it falls it probably won’t impact anything significant. However, that tree in an urban setting poses risks to anything underneath it.
Tree defects are not always easy to see, even for experts like me. The roots and trunk can be deteriorated from inside by pests and pathogens, leading to sudden and catastrophic tree failure. Limb defects can cause broken branches, endangering anyone unlucky enough to be below.
With a tree risk that pruning won’t solve, you have two options: Remove the tree or move the target. The latter is done by cordoning off everything that could possibly be hit, normally with a circle whose radius equals the tree’s height. Parks sometimes use that option, but it’s not practical with street trees.
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When Columbia removes a risky tree, it is usually replaced with a tree chosen to fit the site. Since trees that grow large require large spaces, smaller trees are often the better choice where space is limited.