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City to take down huge, ailing trees in Downtown Tallahassee's Chain of Parks

Posted at 3:05 PM, Feb 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-28 15:16:09-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The City of Tallahassee and the Florida Department of Transportation will remove five giant live oak trees from the Chain of Parks this weekend.

A lengthy assessment led the City to discover that the trees pose a risk to traffic and pedestrians.

Work is scheduled to begin Saturday, when traffic lanes and sidewalks near the intersection of Monroe Street and Park Avenue will be closed.

The City, citing the upcoming Springtime Tallahassee parade and other large downtown events, said that this is the best time to remove the trees.

“Now is the appropriate time to remove the trees that are at the end of their lives,” said Ashley Edwards, director of the City’s Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Affairs Department. “We are extremely grateful for the professional, thorough efforts of our arborists and community tree advocates who collaborated closely on this issue helping to ensure public safety. We are entrusted with being stewards of our natural resources, and we take that responsibility seriously.”

Stan Rosenthal, retired county forester, said the trees face health issues due to rooting space, soil compaction and damage from both lightning and nearby construction.

“These impacts have taken a toll both structurally and health wise,” said Rosenthal, UF/IFAS Extension forestry agent emeritus. “Trees live a tough life in the elements. It’s sad when they reach their end, but as trees are removed and replaced, the important thing is that we keep the renewal process going while providing the best care we can.”

The removal has the support of long-time arbor advocates in the community. A working group was convened to both survey the trees and determine their viability into the future. The oaks were found to have internal decay and structural damage.

“The removal of the park trees is not a short-sighted act," said Ann Bidlingmaier, a longtime activist for preserving trees. “It’s being done after looking at all the available options. A large group was convened that reviewed and discussed the options. The trees pose a hazard, and replanting will be a key part of this process. We’ll have a better-looking area after this work.”

Over the last 20 years more than 45 trees have been planted in the Chain of Parks to diversify the species in the area, and in anticipation that some older ones would eventually have to go.

For more on the city's Urban Forest Master Plan, tree care tips and general information about Tallahassee's trees, visit its website.