In the interest of frugality in public life


by Jackie Alfonso | June 2, 2009 • Because the roads were filled with crews butchering trees this past week, I was reminded of something that has bothered me for years.

Lemonade Chronicles is a blog written by Jackie Alfonso, a local writer who is deeply concerned about food … and other issues.

In the part of Minneapolis where I live, nearly all the utilities are above ground, and wires run along one side of the street on high poles – perhaps 20 feet above the ground level. The other side of the street has no utility poles.

The City in its wisdom plants a single type of tree on each street (in my neighborhood they insist on Green Ash, so we know what happens next)

In any case, one side of the street includes trees that get quite tall – and it is invariably the side with overhead wires. Periodically, as this year, heavy pruning is done so that the tree branches don’t interfere with the wires. This leaves agonized trees that have had all branches removed from the middle of the tree so that wires are unhindered.

On the other side of these same streets, where there are no wires, the City has planted trees that reach only about 15 feet, and need very little pruning.

Would it not make sense for the city to plant the shorter trees on the side with wires – and they would never need butchering – and then plant the trees that get taller on the side with no wires?

The only reason not to do this, so far as I can see, is that there would be less work for the pruning crews. Perhaps a condition of attaining to advanced degrees at the U of M Forestry Dept. is to be ever conscious of ensuring work for the next generation of City Foresters.

What is being done right now is the most costly program with the greatest interference to daily life for residents. In addition, the insistence on monoculture ensures that any problem or illness affecting trees will spread quickly through them, leaving gaping treeless areas. This certainly occurred with Elm trees, now it will be Green Ash, and so on and so on.

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