Why is it so difficult to preserve and expand the tree canopy in Alexandria? The answer is pretty simple: the city values development more than it does protecting the environment. It most certainly does not value tall trees that lower summer air conditioning bills, make our town more attractive, and yes, sustain all sorts of wildlife.
The city’s disregard for nature was clearly communicated to the new owner of the Winkler properties, Morgan Properties of King of Prussia, Pa., who has just clear cut over 500 old native trees and vegetation in the West End. The devastation is spread over something like 150 acres and negatively affects the entire West End community.
Morgan Properties says the trees were old, unhealthy and harbored wildlife, like raccoon, snakes, birds and cicadas that were “endangering” their residents and property. This would be funny, I guess, if the environmental impact was small, but it isn’t. The company had planned to replace the 500 trees with inferior ecological species, such as low-rise crepe myrtle. Alexandria’s well-meaning homeowners plant too many of these shrubs, with the blessing of the city arborist.
This latest assault on Alexandria’s natural habitat should come as no surprise, given that the city and its planning department have for years placed a priority on asphalt and concrete. Trees, habitat for wildlife, climate change? Not so important.
You might ask where the Planning Department was when the annihilation of these trees occurred. Ditto the Planning Commission, Environmental Policy Commission, City Manger and City Council. The mayor, who lives in Park Fairfax, appears to be the only member of council who is genuinely concerned about the deforestation. But how did they allow this level of environmental destruction to occur?
We have a forestry master plan. We have a Beauregard Small Area Plan. But none of it prevented this destruction. Why didn’t it?
We had 500 trees, now we have 500 stumps.
Former Vice Mayor