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Letter: Saving trees makes it easier to breath

Construction a threat to the urban forest.
Severe tree root and canopy damage will occur because of the equipment and methods used in the City of North Battlefords UPAR program.

Dear Editor

As we quickly approach “forest fire” season I’m sure many of us remember the huge amount of smoke in the air last summer. Breathing problems, eye problems and others will return this year with the release of carbon from all the trees burning in our forests.

The mature trees in our city are the best storage units we have for all this carbon and other impurities in the air. We must do everything we can to protect our large trees so they can protect us and help us to breathe. (I read somewhere that breathing is important.)

The city UPAR programs for replacing sewers and water lines will begin again and more of our larger trees will be badly damaged or destroyed. Severe root damage as well as canopy damage will occur because of the equipment and methods used. Other methods could be used that are not as harmful to the trees.

Directional drilling could be looked at as a method of attaching sewer and water lines from the main trench in the middle of the street to individual homes by going under the root systems rather than digging through them. Directional drilling is expensive but if an individual tree is appraised at a higher monetary value than the cost of directional drilling under that individual tree (some trees are valued up to $30,000 to $40,000) then it makes sense to use this method.

An “appraised value” is not to be confused with a “tree risk assessment,” which is an ongoing assessment of the risk of the tree failing due to the method used during the construction project.

Also, it is not necessary to use a backhoe to remove the old sidewalk. A backhoe will severely damage roots on the back side of the boulevard trees. A Bobcat with a lift attachment could easily lift the old sidewalk and haul pieces away with little damage to the roots.

Written policies must be put in place for the protection of our city trees and serve as a strict guideline for all to follow. These written policies are in place in other cities but not in North Battleford. The city is losing its larger trees at an extremely fast rate and we are all suffering from this. It’s the larger trees that are protecting us, wildlife and beneficial insects. Ongoing maintenance is vital to keeping existing trees healthy. Written policies are necessary for the protection of existing trees and for planting more trees to ensure easier breathing in the future.

Please contact our city government and convince them to get these written policies in place.

John Vogt

Certified Arborist

North Battleford