A Different Argument for the Trees

TreesOn the topic of removing the trees that line the two-mile stretch of Fourth Street from Sixth Avenue East to Wallace Avenue during the street reconstruction and upgrading of water and sewer lines in 2016:

Keeping the Fourth Street trees is not just a matter of esthetics, sentimentality or environmentalism. It seems to me that although all of these arguments should save the trees, they are emotionally based. We need an argument to save the trees that is going to stand up to science.

The memory of a study came to me today while I was driving down Fourth. There is less crime in areas with trees. And with the center of dodginess on one end of Fourth, it seems to me that criminal activity could very easily expand outward, taking up another portion of our fair city.

More Trees = Less Crime

So yeah, there is more criminal activity in areas without trees. I don’t think we want more of that.



about 8 years ago

There are all kinds of reasons why the trees should remain... until you get to the incontrovertible fact that beneath those trees is a sewer system that is poisoning our lake (and our water). That sewer system needs to be redone. I love trees, and I'm sure I'll cry when they're gone (no kidding), but how exactly do you propose fixing/replacing the sewer for the long haul without removing them? Cutting away half their roots means they're dead. (Tortured, on the way to dead, if you ask me.) 

Trees grow back. And boulevard trees don't last forever -- it's just the way city living goes, I'm afraid.


about 8 years ago

I live on Fourth Street; there is a magnificent tree in front of our house. But we have had two water main breaks in the last month. I love, love the trees, and if there's any way to save them, great. But I agree with HBH, that we have to think of the health of our city, its residents, and of our lake too. I am just glad there are, on my blocks, trees in front yards too, so it won't be a complete deforestation.


about 8 years ago

I think we can all agree that it's awesome to have trees, and new construction should make an effort to keep existing trees. However, depending on the project, saving the trees can come in conflict with the goal and/or available resources. It's all an exchange, and you just have to figure out if doing a good thing (bike lanes, sewer and road repair) is worth the cost of the bad thing (removing trees). I'm sure the people working on this project discussed many plans for how to move forward with this project, and found the one that best worked for that area.
If we want to keep every tree, that requires us to give up on maintaining roads, sewers, and other infrastructure. It also limits what improvements can be made for accessibility and alternative transportation. Instead of the city spending money on improving the Fourth Street corridor, they'd spend much more keeping the trees by having to duct-tape rather than fix the roads and sewers.


about 8 years ago

Brilliant  Emily, thank you.  I appreciate your intellect and perspective.   It seems there could be a case made for financial savings as well.  This type of model should be easy, yet time consuming to graph and illustrate.  Sometimes when we are found in a quandary of conflicts creative answers and reasoning is just what's needed.


about 8 years ago

I reckon the next reasonable step would be to ask how one could put this inquiry into further action. Perhaps someone within the public safety network could assist.

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

There seems to be some organizing under way. A "Stand by Your Tree" event is planned for Oct. 26.


about 8 years ago

The cynical side of me has concerns about that study. Is there more information or a paper on it describing methodology? Correlation does not equal causation, and in this case, the existence of trees/shrubbery (or lack of) is not necessarily the reason for the differences in crime. What other factors about a neighborhood would mean more or less trees/landscaping that would also mean more or less crime?


about 8 years ago

I have to completely agree with HBH1, I love trees probably as much or more than most people.  However our failing and antiquated infrastructure needs help and has needed help for a long time.  Unless you're a fan of raw sewage backing up in your house or broken water mains in winter, then the trees are an unfortunate sacrifice we must make.  The city has done a very nice job of replacing trees on neighborhood streets after the construction is complete.  Hopefully in 50-100 years, no one will even know they were gone.


about 8 years ago

If the huge trees on 4th street go, my view of the lake from 5th street is gonna be awesome. 
Just kidding, just kidding.

It will definitely change how that stretch of road feels, but I also think it's unfortunate but necessary.

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

Two updates: 

Kim Rose - trees condemned - DNT photo by Steve Kuchera

The Duluth News Tribune covered the event on Sunday -- "Fourth Street residents stage a campaign for their canopy."

And now there's a 4th Street Trees Facebook page.

Leave a Comment

Only registered members can post a comment , Login / Register Here

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Read previous post:
This Week: scares galore, meatballs, lectures, flicks and more

Here's a little bit of what you'll find on this week's PDD Calendar: Ghosties and ghoulies are in abundance, this...