One of the more discouraging aspects of trying to get trees started is when they are run over, literally. This week I received an email that one of the trees the Newton Tree Conservancy planted had been run over by a snowplow. This was an Aristocrat Pear planted in
spring 2010 on Tamworth Street near Chestnut, which I happened to have taken a picture of recently, while getting some pretty snow-covered tree pictures (left). In the latest storm, on March 19, it was cut off at the base by a snowplow which apparently went too high on the berm (right).
A month earlier, we’d heard from one of the tree recipients on Freeman Street where we planted in spring 2012, that their linden was similarly broken in the February blizzard (below). Like the pear, it was looking really healthy, with lovely red linden buds all over. This isn’t the first winter we’ve lost Newton Tree Conservancy trees to a plow; there was another one on Cherry Street in December 2010, that hadn’t even been in a year. And I wouldn’t be surprised if other city trees have been plow casualties, I just don’t happen to know about them.
Marc Welch has told us that based on past experience, about 10% of newly planted trees don’t survive for one reason or another. I was hoping we could do better with NTC trees, with
homeowners helping to plant, and taking a personal interest in the trees in front of their houses. But between the plows, and the hawthorn we lost when 14 Webster Street became a teardown and the tree was demolished along with the house, and another hawthorn at 30 Webster that was run over by a moving van, and another tree run over by a vehicle on Lincoln Street at Woodward, I’m not optimistic. I’m feeling like
families in pre-vaccine, pre-antibiotic times who had lots of kids, expecting that a certain number would not survive.
The city is supposed to get reimbursed for any trees damaged or knocked over by vehicles. If there’s a police report involving tree damage, the law department follows up with the insurance company. That’s always been the case for damage by private vehicles. When it’s a city vehicle doing the damage, there’s no one to recover actual money from, but under the Public Tree Ordinance, Article X Regulation of Public Trees, Sec. 20-72, signed in March 2011:
… the city agency that caused the violation shall be responsible for the costs of replacement or repair of the tree(s) which were damaged or removed.
Of course, it would be preferable if plow and other drivers just didn’t hit the trees in the first place. Short of planting trees off-berm, which has its own disadvantages as well as advantages, I don’t know what to tell people with small trees. Drape them with bright caution tape or Tibetan prayer flags during the winter and hope the drivers notice them? Go stand outside by your tree in your pajamas every two hours through the night every time the plow goes by?