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.

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.