St. Paul's tree policy leaves a neighborhood a 'desolate landscape of destruction'


"If there was a long-range plan to remove the trees, part of that plan was to wait to let homeowners know it was coming so we could not stop it." Emily Utne

Reader Kristen Montag responds to Minneapolis & St. Paul misbegotten slaughter of the ash trees:

Thank you very much to Sheila Regan for writing the article about Minneapolis and St. Paul's destruction of the ash trees.

It made many of the points my husband and I talked about since the city of St. Paul came with little notice to our neighborhood and wiped out our entire street/area of at least forty ash trees on a cold January day, leaving us with an ugly stump, some sawdust, no future shade and less habitat for wildlife, among the many other things you brought up in your reporting.

If there was a long-range plan to remove the trees, part of that plan was to wait to let homeowners know it was coming so we could not stop it. We saw the green marking on the tree and within a couple days, had a brief note left at our door saying the trees would be taken down. There was no time to do anything -- no chance for us to comment or offer to pay to treat it and keep our healthy tree on the boulevard.

We were leaving for a trip the day they showed up. We came back later that week to a desolate landscape of destruction. Sheila’s description of the dusty subdivision in Oklahoma was on the mark. A street that used to be shaded, pretty and welcoming now looks like a tornado came through.

The city had no plans to replace the trees on our street, or even grind the stumps, which was another factoid they didn't inform us about. When someone on the neighborhood Facebook group got wind of that, we all started contacting our councilperson about our displeasure. Eventually she said they "found money" to at least grind the stumps. Eventually we'll get replacement trees, but it may not be until 2018 -- I will believe it when I see it.

The excuse we were given was that the city was short on cash because the courts wouldn't let them assess us for fees and the coffers were short. I question why they are not planning removal, grinding and replacement as a package and doing what they can afford as they go, versus cutting down all the trees in one swoop and leaving the stumps for years until the money became available.

Remember, these trees were still healthy with no evidence of Emerald Ash Borer. And all that healthy wood went somewhere. It seems like maybe that could’ve generated the funds to replace our trees.

The fact that they could've treated these trees and not made this colossal mess is hard to take. We surely would've paid the $100 every two years to save our tree.

Our home is hotter this year, so we're running the air conditioning more. The birds and squirrels that lived in those trees lost their habitat with so many less mature trees around. If we had wanted to sell our home, it would've been even more devastating as the neighborhood looks horrible, hot and uninviting.

I miss the green canopy this summer and will miss the lovely fall colors we used to enjoy, and probably will even miss raking those leaves this year.

I applaud the suburbs for taking steps to save their trees. I wish St. Paul leaders would have considered doing the same.


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