Urgent moratorium on tree removals in Winthrop MA!

Urgent moratorium on tree removals in Winthrop MA!

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Mikayla Dalton started this petition to Winthrop Town Council

We residents of Winthrop demand an urgent moratorium on public tree removal until a Tree Ordinance is developed with input from experts and local residents. We can protect both the public safety and our public trees. Petition created by the Winthrop Likes Trees citizens group. 

In the great gale of September 9, 1869, a mighty elm - planted in the Colonial days of the early 1600's - was split in half and felled, but the people of Winthrop donated money so that workmen could raise and bolt the two halves together. The tree recovered, and subsequent growth of the trunk covered all evidence of the bolts. The tree survived another forty years and achieved a circumference of about 15 feet before ailing. A ceremony was performed before the necessary felling in 1912, which many mourners attended, and a large number of people visited in its final days, requesting pieces of the tree as a memento.

The first public shade trees in Winthrop were planted along the sidewalk of Main Street in 1853. The planting of many public street trees occurred in 1880, mainly maples and elms, which were described still in the 1950's as having greatly beautified the town. 

But now, healthy mature trees are being felled or are under threat of removal. This poses some short term costs for the felling, as well as the repairs to the pavement/roads sinking/buckling as the roots dissolve underneath. There is also the cost of stump grinding later on, which Winthrop only does infrequently, leaving the streets lined with unsightly stumps in the meantime. Take a tour of the town and see how many stumps you find! However, there are long term costs as well in felling healthy mature trees, even when replaced by younger smaller ones. Here are the benefits we are lowering with our current shortsighted piecemeal approach:

* Clean air. Our mature trees remove significant amounts of fossil fuel emissions. They significantly reduce both indoor and outdoor pollution, which is particularly important given our proximity to the airport. 
* Peace and Quiet. Our mature trees provide a significant buffer against noise, particularly valuable to those near the airport or under flight lines. 
* Health. Trees lower stress, and improve both mental and physical health. 
* Safety. Lots of green space with high canopies reduces crime, including petty crimes like graffiti, vandalism, and littering, as well as some violent crime. 
* Energy. These trees significantly reduce cooling costs in summer to nearby residences, and reduce the urban "heat island" effect. They lower both surface and air temperature. They can reduce household energy consumption by 25%.
* Flood mitigation. These trees help absorb more water into the ground, reducing flooding risk. 
* Property values. Mature trees positively influence home sale prices. Houses on streets with mature trees sell more quickly for more money.

Naturally, maintaining our healthy trees and finding creative solutions to the issues they can pose (such as roots encroaching on the curbs or lifting the pavement) can pose a cost as well, but that must be balanced against the short term costs of felling and the significant long term costs of felling. 

Winthrop once had an Arbor Day Foundation designation as a tree city, but we had long been a big tree town before this award even existed. Sadly, we have lost our Tree City designation, and Winthrop's fine canopy has been much diminished. The elm disease that struck throughout the USA had an impact, but unfortunately our town has also suffered from a lack of cohesive town planning. And, unlike other communities in the greater Boston area, we don't have a Tree Ordinance to govern our town's tree management.

We residents of Winthrop demand an urgent moratorium on the felling of public trees until a Tree Ordinance is developed with input from experts and local residents. We can protect both the public safety and our public trees. We need to prioritize our canopy for the many benefits it provides, and come up with a sensible and detailed approach to managing these public assets. No further trees should be felled until we have this in place, with the exception of seriously diseased specimens or those posing an imminent high risk hazard that requires urgent removal. 


Historical source: winthropmemorials.org/civic/pages/history-of-winthrop-clark/html
Scientific sources for environmental & social benefits: arborday.org/trees/treefacts 
Additional source on crime: depts.washington.edu/hhwb/Thm_Crime.html


 

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