Should have been discussion before cutting down trees

Managing Editor Gary DeVonIf social media means anything, then Oroville’s school superintendent’s ears are probably burning. He’s getting the brunt of the criticism on facebook since the district decided to cut down a dozen 100-plus-year-old maple trees on the east side of the elementary school.

Unfortunately, he’s off on vacation this week and we weren’t able to ask him about this irreversible decision. A call to the district office got the response the trees were removed in order to make room for more parking. In fact, there was some mention about complaints on another facebook page about the lack of parking at the grade school. It seems the district might have traded one set of complaints for another.

There was also mention that the trees dripped sap on to the cars parked under them. That’s been happening for a long time. That could have been fixed with proper pruning and a couple sprays a year. Or, if you’re worried about spraying, then buy some ladybugs and control the afvids using biological means – don’t cut down the trees.

On the facebook front, Crisha Warnstaff, who started the conversation said her research shows trees in the city’s right-of-way are the city’s responsibility. She said a search of the recent minutes of the city council and the school board doesn’t mention these particular trees at all. It definitely wasn’t discussed at any of the recent meetings as the G-T was in attendance. I do know, however, that I mentioned the trees while on the building tour of the elementary at the last school board meeting. Mr. Quick said nothing about them going to be cut down the very next week.

I remember seeing what I thought was a severe pruning job early last Monday morning. What I didn’t know was how severe it would turn out to be – pruned nearly to the ground level, leaving ugly stumps behind. More parking is needed at the elementary, but rather than just cutting the trees down – acting first and begging forgiveness later – the issue should have been discussed. Planting new trees at the grade school and high school, inside the fence, will be a good thing. But replacing the shade for kids on the primary end playground will take many years. Replacing the energy savings from the shade on the building will also take time.

TREES AT OROVILLE ELEMENTARY GET THE "AX"

Nearly a dozen maple trees, said to be 100 plus years old, were cut down on the east side of the Oroville Elementary School this week to make room
for more parking. The school district promises to replace the trees at the grade school, as well as the high school, with even more trees. The new trees at
the elementary will be within the fence and will provide some much needed shade to the playground , visible here, at the primary end of the building.
The old stumps will be ground down to allow paved parking, much of which was lost when a pick-up and drop-off zone was designated earlier this year.
The tree removal has generated several critical comments on the social media site Facebook, although the district office has also received several complaints
about the lack of parking as well. Gary DeVon/staff photo

Trees provide shade, beauty, habitat, oxygen and much more. Oroville has is a Tree City USA and has a tree board. Was the board consulted?

Trees are an emotional subject with most of us. I can still remember the uproar, most coming from the Senior Citizens Center, when several trees were cut down at Henry Kniss Riverside Park. Many remember the rope swing from which we launched ourselves out into the river. Perhaps one of the most visible reminders of tree cutting gone wild was the loss of the huge maples that used to line the south side of Central. It was the only street that we had with big trees on both sides – spectacular in spring and fall.

Paved parking at the elementary is needed, especially in light of the parking lost to the pick-up and drop-off zone. However, if the district administrator is going to take a step bound to raise emotions, it should have been discussed with the community first. The community at large still might not have liked it, but at least they could have known the reason behind the decision. Enjoy your vacation while you can, I see some emotion-packed board meetings when you return.

Update: Oroville School District Superintendent Steve Quick called from the road, but it was too late to get his comments into this week’s edition. Quick  confirmed that the trees were cut down to make way for more parking at the elementary school, partially due to the loss of parking from the Student Pick-up and Drop-off Zone. He also said it would make for easier snow removal and reduce maintenance costs for raking up leaves, etc. He said the plan is to plant several trees within the fenced area, at both the grade school and the high school, where trees were removed last year. Quick said he did not know whether the area where the trees were cut down was school property or city right-of-way. He maintained that the city has always left the care and upkeep of the trees to the school district in the past. G.A.D.

 

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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5 Responses to Should have been discussion before cutting down trees

  1. Lori Packer July 9, 2013 at 12:55 am #

    I am saddened by this. That's all I can say. I was raised in, grew up in, lived in, and worked in Oroville for many years, this is really something that should have been discussed with the community. I bet my bottom dollar they would have kept the trees and used some spray control. Parking? There may have been some great ideas, given the chance…..

  2. MaryAnn Popper Hardy July 9, 2013 at 1:29 am #

    Oh my God. I always just shake my head when things like this happen. Then I think, "Was this the BEST idea they could come up with??" And you are so right, Lori. Actions like this NEED public approval or a lot of chaos ensues and most people are left feeling demeaned by what seems like contempt from public officials. This was a real mistake. Let's not even get me started on the beauty of the TREES!!!

  3. Lacey Shaw July 9, 2013 at 2:17 am #

    It looks soo ugly now! And there is no longer anyshade at the play ground I was thinking maybe every other tree but I can't beileve they cut them all! Down! I think there definately needs to be a change in oroville elementary

  4. Lacey Shaw July 9, 2013 at 2:23 am #

    all because people were too LAZY to get out of their cars and walk to the school doors, seriously ridiculous I mean come on people!lo

  5. Kerry Wright July 9, 2013 at 2:41 am #

    I used to live across the street from there, I guess I am missing something but why were these so troublesome?

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