Weston Tree Survey, aka Lorax Identification Matrix

Photo by Dulcey Lima on Unsplash

Last week, the Owl receieved an announcement about a Tree Survey that the Town is doing to gauge resident anxiety over tree death by private hands (I am summarizing). Oh all right, here is the actual town wording:

Members of the Planning Board, Select Board, Tree Advisory Group, and the Sustainability Committee are working with the Town Planner in examining Weston’s trees, both public and private. The following survey is intended to gauge the level of resident concern over the removal of healthy trees on private property that do not threaten homes or power lines.

I note that the Town of Weston facebook post has already attracted a number of responses and would like to re-iterate that your opinion counts officially only if you fill out the survey. Your facebook posts are public, the survey is anonymous. You choose.

In any case, I’ve decided to nickname the Tree Survey, which sounds massively boring (sorry, finance folks who run town), the Lorax Identification Matrix or LIM. Yeah, I could not come up with a “B” for the end. Basically, the six questions reflect on you as a person: do you want to everyone to have the right to clear-cut large amounts of carbon-dioxide ameliorating natural beings which are believed to scream when they are cut, or do you want to be reasonable? Oh, all right, bring on the hate mail all you “it’s my tree and I’ll cut it if I want to” folks. I’m so ready. Actually, I’m not; I dislike hate mail. Be nice.

There are six questions on the survey. It is my strong inclination to say that this is not a survey about whether or not you should be able to cut down three dying hemlocks on your own property. No, this is more like hey, Mr. Developer, did you just clear an acre of forested land including a Scenic-Road huge white pine and replace it with a giant pit of stagnant water? There’s a difference. Remember, Massachusetts has a public shade tree law as well–while you may wish to escape all laws about well, everything, life is not like that.

Clearcutting - Wikipedia
Actual aerial photo of Weston’s south side. Oh, just kidding, people, relax. Search “clearcutting” on wikipedia

Now, as you all know, I am a major friend of trees (FOT). I have, however, cut down two large (and sick) ash trees in my yard, as well as a decrepit old crabapple. The first two were hazards to anyone driving on my driveway (I am the other hazard to anyone driving on my driveway because I cannot reverse. Cannot), the third one was sad and dying. Would I be cranky if I were supposed to visit with the Planning Board over these three? Yes. But they were not healthy so I doubt it would have been a problem. So, to me, the answer on this LIM (am I biasing the vote? Probably not, mostly only my mom reads this page and she works with the Morton Arboretum so is naturally on my side) is “it depends”.

Are you clearcutting? Let’s define clearcutting. X number of trees being replaced by only grass or 6,998 square foot houses. You are bad. Haha, my value judgement. Weston is NOT Wellesley. Let us not do big grassy lawns, okay? Oh, and yes, Wellesley has a tree by-law because they have so few trees left. Hello. Ring, ring–this is semi-rural calling and it wants its forest back.

Are you cutting down an oak? That is, as Doug Tallamy says, “a crime against nature.” Stop. Right now. Cut down Norway maples if you must–knock yourself out (that could be literally–call an arborist). And yes, I’m going to call in my favorite left-leaning (where “leaning” is an understatement) media source (besides me) , the New York Times, which wrote in a March 2021 article:

“Oaks support more life-forms than any other North American tree genus, providing food, protection or both for birds to bears, as well as countless insects and spiders, among the enormous diversity of species.”  

Oaks are 900-year trees–300 years of growth, 300 years of maturity, and 300 years of decline. Have you seen one of the truly big guys? Amazzzzzing. I could go on and on. Oaks are simply awesome.

Oh, oops, it happened again–I got a bit Loraxing on my commentary. Think what you will, and speak your mind on the Tree Survey (LIM). And speak it before November 1.

Trees rule.

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