Letter: Goodbye Tree in Great Falls

Letter: Goodbye Tree in Great Falls

To the Editor

To the Editor:

This week, the Virginia Department of Transportation is poised to complete their demolition of the original canopy of white oak trees over downtown Great Falls. One oak was lopsided after extreme and substandard utility pruning. It fell, and a motorist died. Another oak was felled to make room for infrastructure that was never installed. Across the street, another oak grew over the road. VDOT never had it pruned, as all trees need once or twice every decade.

Instead, this tree and its neighbor were condemned by VDOT's contractors, based on cursory inspections, fear, and junk science. The Great Falls Citizens Association hired us to inspect the trees thoroughly, consult the best science available, and come up with another plan.

We climbed the trees, tomographed the trunks, consulted the best research, and specified routine pruning. VDOT ignored our findings, and decided to remove the leaning tree on the corner.

When the first cuts were made, the tree pulled back to vertical, proving our report that a little reduction enhances stability. Topping old trees can kill them, so their contractor reached over and topped the

neighboring oak.

Next, VDOT hired more consultants who ignored the topping and drilled into the roots of the last oak tree, to see how thick they were. With no scientific basis, or consideration of other options, they said what VDOT wanted to hear: the tree had to go.

Say goodbye to the last heritage oak in downtown Great Falls, and know why your landscape is lacking. The beautiful greenery that once cooled the community and provided shade, cleaned the air and water, gave

habitat to wildlife habitat, and sustained history was lost because no one paid attention to its needs. Joni Mitchell was right--we don't know what we got til it's gone.

Guy Meilleur

New Hill, N.C.