Join the effort to protect Marietta’s healthy trees

Historic Marietta, a Tree City USA 38 years running, needs its citizens to step up if our urban forest is to survive.

While the spirit of Marilyn Ortt inspires many everyday, her physical presence fighting for every healthy tree and continual planting now is in the hands of others.

The Marietta Tree Commission is a dedicated and hard working volunteer group providing hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars worth of services every year.

But the challenges facing our public trees require much more than a few dedicated people, who understand humans and the planet cannot survive without trees providing shade, oxygen, erosion control, beauty and numerous other benefits, such as wildlife habitat.

The imported Emerald Ash Borer killed 176 trees on city property and right-of-ways. Besides the expense of removing the dead trees, many pose concerns continuing risk of dropping heavy limbs on those walking or driving under them.

The destruction of the ash trees was probably out of our control, at least on a local level. The unnecessary destruction of healthy, century old sycamore and other hardwoods on Eighth Street was easily preventable. The city official who signed off on the AEP permit two years ago failed to inform Marietta Tree Commission members until weeks before nine trees were cleared for massive electric line upgrades.

The only Formal Tree Commission discussion occurred just hours before a neighborhood awoke to major destruction and loss of protective shade enjoyed the past 50 to 70 years.

Healthy trees were described as diseased and already dead in defense of the unnecessary destruction. It is not either trees or electricity, it is a responsible balance.

Almost immediately after the Eighth Street destruction, the assault on Front Street Watson Park below the Washington Street Bridge began. A plan for a senior playground could have been installed without harming a single tree.

Instead, trees again were pronounced as “diseased.” Worse than just the destruction of three 30-year-old red maples, the entire area was bulldozed 18 inches deep. No protection for city parkland or the Muskingum River was observed.

An additional two trees were cut, massive roots were ripped out of the ground compromising the safety of other trees for decades to come. Heavy equipment is being run over and parked on dozens of other tree roots likely killing those trees in coming years.

Trucks and trailers are parked on the tree roots daily. That compacts the soil and suffocates the roots.

Protection of city trees is clearly spelled out in the Marietta Tree Commission’s pamphlet “Minimizing Construction Damage to Street Trees.”

These are your trees. They cannot protect themselves. Trees, children, animals and brick streets cannot look out for their own best interests. They have always depended upon responsible and caring adults to step up and help protect them.

This is not about us, this is about our children, grandchildren and their future.

Won’t you join the effort to protect Marietta’s legacy of being a beautiful, tree shaded city?

One or two destructive people in positions of “power” should not be permitted to continue their wanton destruction of the city we love. Only you can prevent further damage to your city’s historic assets.

Roger G. Kalter is Marietta City Council liaison to Marietta City Tree Commission Lands, Buildings and Parks Committee chair.