Monday, January 08, 2007

Fear of Trees

The New York times reported today the residents of Puget Sound are experiencing "fear of trees" after a big windstorm that brought many trees down onto houses and powerlines.

In the weeks after the storm, Mr. Hushagen and other tree experts here in perhaps the nation’s most wooded metropolitan region have been wildly busy, dashing from house to house to extract trees from roof trusses, peel them off driveways and, once the chain saws are at rest, try to predict for nervous homeowners whether one more good gust might take down yet another giant.

In the process, some have also become deeply concerned, worried that there may be more lasting damage to the relationship — not too strong a word in the Evergreen State — some people have with the trees around them. Now some tree experts have begun a kind of informal counseling campaign intended to restore trust, or at least the willingness to risk being hurt again.

“People get tired of the trees falling on their property and on their roofs, and they just want them all cut down,” said Sarah Griffith, the urban forestry program manager with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. “We say, Hey, this tree just survived 80 m.p.h. winds. It’s going to be O.K.”

In the first desperate days after the storm, the King County division of Water and Land Resources urged restraint. “Many trees have been lost to the windstorm,” Greg Rabourn, a project manager with the agency, said in a news release at the time, “and we don’t want to lose many more to bad advice or hysteria.”

It sounds kind of like all of the talk around here concerning just one tree, Leland's Chmpion Poplar. In early december, the county Road Commission voted to cut down the tree, citing concerns about falling limbs. An outcry ensued, and now the tree is being evaluated by a couple of different arborists. When Anna and I were there last Saturday we saw The Tree Doctor up in the limbs on a High-Low taking core samples. We also saw the Leland Reporter taking this picture.

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