Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.


Friday, June 18, 2010

NYC street trees...it's a jungle out there


What is this man doing and why?

He mumbled something about making the metal tree well cover fit, doing his job, blah blah blah. Did he know he was killing the tree? My guess is no. And if he had, what difference would it have made? Would he have said to his boss, no, I'm sorry, I can't do what you ask because it will kill the tree? Again, my guess is no.

Further up 3rd Avenue I passed a street tree with a branch hanging by a strip of bark (a poorly driven truck? a rambunctious teen?). A traffic cop stood on the other side of the tree writing a ticket. I pointed out the damaged tree and explained it could get worse if the branch were allowed to pull off the tree, ripping the bark further. I identified myself as an arborist (a well-intentioned lie) who just happened to have a pruning saw in my bag. I offered to remove the branch to prevent more damage and fully expected to be met with a refusal. To my surprise and pleasure, the cop said, sure, go ahead. And I did.

According to the NYC Parks Department, both the man with the axe and I are guilty of wrong doing. I don't know if it's a misdemeanor or a ticketable offense. I do know that I was helping, maybe even saving that tree, but in the eyes of the law, I shouldn't have done it. In the eyes of Mother Nature, however...

In the fall, I plan to become a Citizen Pruner, so I won't have to worry about being punished for a good deed. Our street trees need all the help they can get.

5 comments:

cindy said...

"Citizen Pruner?" I like it! Like a "Lady Writer" or a "street urchin"!

Robin Horton said...

Guerrilla pruners! Love it! Ellen (s), it was wonderful meeting you the other night. Looking forward to seeing you at the GWA symposium.

frank@new york city garden said...

Good for you for doing it!

The "law" is in place to keep people like my landlords from "pruning" trees exactly to their liking, which is dead and gone.

Those who care, take care and prune:)

I suppose it would've been too much to ask to make the ring fit the tree, not the other way around:(

Georgia said...

My jaw dropped at your story about the cutting the bark to make the tree grate fit!
The Citizen Pruner course is intriguing...

Marie said...

I've always wanted to be a citizen pruner :-)

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