Forests and the Fourth of July


If a tree falls in the forest, and there’s nobody there, does it make a sound? That’s a question that never needs asking in our urban forest, where every crashing tree was heard last weekend, and many were photographed. For two more good slide shows of trees in the forest, see Jim Mork’s Photo Bucket show here and Ryan Coleman’s Photo Store gallery, as well as Nicholas Sucik’s video and our Storify.

Some buzzards in human form descended after the storm, as described by E-Democracy contributors, and we have a Better Business Bureau warning on how to protect yourself from them.

That was last weekend — we can hope for better weather for this weekend and the long 4th of July weekend that’s coming up. Big events this weekend: Pride in Minneapolis, Twin Cities Jazz Festival in St. Paul, and Somali Independence Day on Lake Street on Sunday. If you’d like to share photos, Facebook posts, Tweets and comments, go ahead and use #tcdpweekend hashtag for this weekend and #tcdpJuly4 for the July 4 weekend.

I’m taking a day off from the column on July 5, so here’s a 4th of July question for you: What’s your favorite 4th of July activity? Take our poll here!

Fourth of July fun facts from the Census Bureau:

  • Last year we imported $218.2 million in fireworks from China and exported $11.7 million in U.S.-made fireworks to other countries.
  • In July 1776, the population of the United States was 2.5 million. Today it’s estimated at 316.2 million.
  • 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
  • John Hancock, President of the Second Continental Congress, was the first signer. This merchant by trade did so in an entirely blank space making it the largest and most famous signature – hence the term John Hancock, which is still used today as a synonym for signature. There are 7,354,043 businesses with paid employees in the U.S., according to the 2011 County Business Patterns. 
  • Benjamin Franklin (age 70), who represented Pennsylvania, was the oldest of the signers.
  • Two future presidents signed, John Adams (second President) and Thomas Jefferson (third President). Both died on the 50th anniversary of signing the Declaration (July 4, 1826).

And that oft-quoted email about the signers of the Declaration of Independence and “the price they paid?” Not exactly accurate — if you want the facts, so you can argue with your brother-in-law, check out the complete story at

CORRECTION: It’s Ryan COLEMAN’s Photo Store gallery with the great photos.