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.