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“by the time DDOT urban forestry opens this morning the tree will be gone.”

by Prince Of Petworth June 24, 2016 at 2:10 pm 58 Comments


Guilherme Almeida tweets us earlier this morning:

“4th 100 year old tree being removed on my formerly beautiful tree lined block. Why?!”

“this one is at lamont st between 11th and 13th. The other have been on 11th between lamont and park.”

“I was told the reason for removal by the crew was ‘tree’s dead’. I’m no arborist but it clearly looks alive to me!”

  • General Grant Circle

    “I’m no arborist but it clearly looks alive to me!””
    It is possible (and likely if I am viewing those logs correctly) that the tree can be dead in the center (this doesnt mean the bark or branches arent alive). This sort of internal erosion/decay of the tree can very dangerous, and is what generally causes grand ol giants like these to fall over in a gust of wind. They essentially become like brittle straws

    • Rich

      If this is OP’s tree, it has plenty of dead branches in the pick. Having had a dead tree (which took out a neighbor’s porch and my gutters) that “looked healthy” that looked like this, then my money would be on the arborist. In my case, the tree straddled the property line but was mostly my neighbor’s. When a big limb took out the porch, it was after a heavy rain, which apparently is not unusual–some species hold onto a lot of water–the limb fell after rather than during the rain. I knew it was sick (one of the few useful things from my property inspection) but until the big fall he wasn’t willing to take up my offer of paying part of having it taken down.

    • niceflipflop

      This. They also cut down a seemingly healthy tree across from my office at 20th and S (next to the Chateau Thierry apts) the other day. Once it was gone, you could see why. It was completely rotted out and hollow. Looks can be deceiving.

  • gonzodc

    you’re right. you are no arborist.

    • Kingman Park

      +1 I wonder how OP feels about climate change.

    • Anonymous

      +1. The biggest problem with the proliferation of social media is that we now have to tolerate people criticizing things that they no virtually nothing about. Everyone’s an expert and everyone else is wrong.

      • MtP

        +1. It really has become too much. But that is a whole separate discussion for another day.

        • Anonymous

          Thank you for not criticizing my typo. I guess you’re not a spelling expert. ;)

      • anon

        Or, you could see it as a great opportunity for people to learn stuff, as this post seems to be for the OP and other readers (like me).

  • Arborist

    They have been cutting down a lot of trees in CH lately. Three of the big old trees on 11th St near Tubman elementary have come down despite looking healthy. The district has done a good job planting new trees, but it’s really sad to lose some of the majestic older ones.

    • victoria

      It is perfectly possible for an intelligent person to consider two (or even more) truths for a situation.

      1. Most of us don’t know which trees are healthy from how they appear.
      2. Our DC government has a long history of incompetence, particularly when hiring outside contractors.
      3. Hired contract arborists have a financial interest in telling the city that a tree is bad.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Agreed with all of this. I’ve always assumed, possibly incorrectly though, that most arborists are tree-lovers and that their tree-hugger-ness would override their financial interest in the event that a nice big tree didn’t really need to be cut down.

        • textdoc

          +1. I figured the arborists were independent, not affiliated with the companies that do the actual cutting-down.

          • victoria

            The guys that actually show up with chainsaws and trucks are like those in most other hard labor jobs – Hispanic men. The ones I’ve seen – at least four trees taken on Irving St in the past two years – seem very professional. But they are not the ones deciding which trees to cut.

      • Shaw

        As someone who has hired arborists and worked extensively with them on large projects, your comment #3 is really very far off the mark. Arborists are people who literally dedicate their lives to working with trees- do you really think they are eager to take down old ones even if they earn money from it? That’s like implying that a vet has a financial interest in putting dogs to sleep, so they must be recommending it without regard to whether the dog *really* needs it. How silly.

        Also, there’s no need to bash city contractors- especially if the only thing you know about that is what you read in the papers. DC hires many excellent contractors and the bidding process is focused on quality and value. There is no city in the country that self performs all of the work associated with providing residential services, construction, etc. A few bad apples get all the press- and then people over react by trying to take out the good guys too. That’s what DGS is doing right now- and it’s going very poorly.

        • Rich

          Like many people on this and other local blogs, the poster showcases the kind of dogma they got from Econ 101 (and their lack of exposure to anything else related to economics or decision making). In practice, utilitarianism fails to drive a lot of behavior and markets tend to be distorted in ways that often aren’t obvious. In this case, the city separates the process of making judgments about trees, taking them down, and replacing them. The city has the arborist, the cutting is done by one contractor and the planting by another. Victoria would rather talk conventional wisdom (everything in the world is rigged, sucks) than notice how the separation of things works here. Even in the bad old days of the 90s, DC had some surprisingly great city employees, just as the much lauded suburbs have never been quite what they were cracked up to be. People complain about the separation of tasks and the time it takes, but whining is practically an Olympic sport here and practiced by people who usually lack any practical knowledge.

          • It is the duty of all citizens to expect and guard.against perfidy. Starbucks shorting your latte, or cousin Joe’s tree business scooping city money, it is ignorant to blithely expect honesty. And just fyi, the bad old days of the 90s came, for many of us, after living here since the 70s.

    • Northzax

      Part of the problem is years of deferred cutting. People like their trees to be uniform, and for too long this was the status quo. Problem is, uniform trees all die at roughly the same time, and then take fifty years to replace. If this all had been done twenty five years ago, you’d have a nice mix of trees, and not lose them all at once.

  • Kingman Park

    It had a good life, time to let it go. It’s not like there aren’t any other trees in DC. You’d be singing a different tune if you somehow save the tree and it collapses only to crush your car.

    • anon

      Or killed you. Which happened to a guy walking down the street in Adams Morgan a few years ago.

  • transplanted

    To take down a tree that size they have to have a permit, which means that an actual arborist came out and said it was dead or dying. So plant a tree if you’re concerned about your block (or have Casey trees do it for you), but don’t assume that this is some kind of anti-tree scam.

    • john

      You need a special permit if the tree is 55″ in circumference 4.5 feet from the ground.

      • transplanted

        Two things: 1) this is a street tree, not a special tree; and 2) even if it were a special tree it more than meets that requirement.

      • Nigel Farage

        Any tree in the public space requires a permit to remove or trim. Its work in the public space.

    • ET

      I always thought that the city did contract with companies to cut down trees on public property that were deemed dead/diseased.

  • Mona

    I’m no arborist but that tree looks dead to me. Look at the cut branches on the ground. They have a huge hole. That doesn’t look like a healthy tree to me. Imagine you lived in one of the houses next to the tree and you have to think about the possibility of this tree or a branch collapsing on you, a loved one, you car or all of these…

    • FridayGirl

      Yeah, those holes are huge in the center. That’s amazing. (Mostly because I’ve never seen a dead tree cut down before.)

  • Vonstallin

    Ive lived here in DC my whole life. We use to have HUGE trees creating canopy’s over streets. An Elm tree virus destroyed most of them. Like the other commenter said, the trees dye from the center out. That tree is dead with a little life left. The biggest problem is a good storm will knock it over easier and into a house.

    It’s good that someone/DC are able to detect the dead trees. By the time they are showing that they are dead, its pretty late. The 1st signs are the fallen off branches exposing the dead core.

  • JS

    “I’m no arborist” – to piggyback off of yesterday’s thread “So you have no frame of reference here, Donny…”

  • Halfsmoke

    Cut that sucker down before it falls and crushes a bunch of cops at a neighborhood bbq.

    • Mamasan

      Funny. Evil, but funny.

    • 7thStTechGuy

      That’s a great troll of over reactive nimbyism!

  • sigh

    “I’m no arborist ”


  • artemis

    A few years ago, someone I know was struck and killed by a falling tree limb in Mt. Pleasant. I love trees as much as the next person, but I am also 1000% in removing any of them that may be damaged or dying. I don’t see this as an anti-green conspiracy but rather as addressing what could become a public safety concern.

  • My childhood block was a cathedral of giant oak trees. In early 2011, the city said the tree in front of our house had to come down. It left a gaping hole on the block. Later that year Hurricane Irene hit and took down 4 or 5 massive trees on the block. Apparently their roots were loosened by the earthquake. Sometimes the city knows what it’s doing.

  • MtP

    DC has been cutting down gorgeous trees on my block for the past year or so, and it is very sad, but I agree with others that they are likely dead and can be quite dangerous. We just had one such tree that wasn’t cut down yet fall in the recent storm and crush four parked cars. Hopefully these will all be replanted, and hopefully they really are only cutting down trees that need it.

  • Colhi

    In six months, this post would have been: “This city is such a joke. My street had an old tree that they never trimmed or took care of. In last night’s storm, it fell on my brand new $2,000 road bike. I hate DC. Has anyone had in luck in suing the city for damages?”

    • banananonymous

      LOL! I can’t believe the let this tree fall!

    • ChenChen


    • MtP

      This is a great comment.

  • L

    Here’s your fun arborist/landscape architect fact of the day: The main cause of death for city trees is actually soil compaction, which results in street trees having an average life of about 7-11 years. You want your trees to live? Don’t compact the soil around them. Of course DC isn’t really helping with the puny and unprotected tree boxes…

    • facts

      the idea that street trees have an “average life” of 7-11 years is a complete joke. where are you getting that number? I’ve lived on my block in Ledroit Park for over a decade and some trees have been cut down that are clearly 20+ years old. All the trees the city has planted have survived.

      • HaileUnlikely

        You may or may not be correct, but your reasoning has all the merit of saying that the statistic that the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78 years is “a complete joke” because you know a few people who are older than that.

      • Many trees die in the first year or two after planting. Kinda like infant mortality–just because you see a bunch of old people around doesn’t mean a bunch of others didn’t die very young.

  • Marty

    I often drive past the spot on Connecticut Ave where the mom and few kids died about 5 years ago when a large limb fell on their car during a thunderstorm.

    I don’t propose that every tree over 8′ comes down, but I have a new respect for the weight and mass of these limbs – especially when they are so high up.
    I’d rather we err on the side of caution and take down a tree that is questionable, rather than leave it up and let it do property damage, or worse.

  • Anonymous

    Rather then claim outrage, why not put in a 311 request to have the tree replaced? UFA will come out to remove the stump and, when the season is right (i.e. not dead of summer), replace it with another shade tree. They’ll even provide a Treegator bag for summertime so you can water it.
    Here’s a secret, too: if you’re really, really nice, you can request a specific type of tree (from a list of approved varieties). But shhh…you didn’t hear that from me.

    • Brentwood

      Interesting about requesting specific types of trees — do you know what’s on the approved list? There’s some empty tree boxes on my street.

  • Guilherme Almeida

    OP Here! A few clarifications:

    1) The tree with the bare branches is not the tree in question. That tree is in the foreground and not in fact being removed.
    2) Again, I’m don’t claim to be an arborist, my main gripe here is that the 4 trees I mentioned being removed were all removed at 7am and with no visible ailments and no prior notice to the community. While it may in fact be that had some issue not visible to your average citizen, there is a certain opacity to the tree removal process that just doesn’t sit well. Yes, you can go online and see a virtal map of all trees that are currently slated for removal but it doesn’t explain any more than the location of the tree – no reason for removal is given.
    3) In the many years I’ve lived on Lamont Street, I’ve never seen the city maintain the trees or carefully upgrade the infrastructure around them which adds to the frustration.
    4) and finally, of the three that had been previously removed, none have been replaced – and when they are replaced they will surely be replaced with the smallest of trees that will leave a big hole in the mature canopy of our street.

    All that being said this tree-xit is not the worse thing that’s happened today so a big thanks to PoP for posting this and to the comments for being hilarious, as usual.

    Have a great weekend everyone!

    • Rich

      The logs on the street are obviously from a diseased tree. Your claims of “no visible ailments” seem to simply be assertions with no basis in even casual observation.

      You probably have not seen private property owners “maintain” trees either. I had an arborist look at my trees when I lived in Atlanta and the only one deemed as needing particularly special care was a rare species of pine and that didn’t need much upkeep.

      Its not unusual for multiple trees to come down–they probably all were planted at the same time, so of course they die at the same time.This has been the case around my buiding.

      Of course they plant small trees–big ones getting moved are something you might find on a wealthy estate, not main street. Moving mature plants of any kind raises the likelihood of mortality–it’s a shock to their root systems to move them and a bigger shock to a mature plan; it is much more difficult to plant mature plants of any kind because their roots are so well developed. Even the young trees usually planted by DC or the average person have a fairly high mortality rate.

      I grew-up surrounded by mature trees and have lived around a lot of them in older inner ring suburbs and in old city and small town neighborhoods. I’ve seen a lot of dead trees fall down or be taken down and have cut up plenty of limbs in my time. I’m no arborist but I’m also not some typical DCer who lacks practical knowledge..

  • markus

    When the DC Arborist came out to locate the placement of a new tree, they actually knocked on the door to handed me the list and let me pick whichever I liked best. Darn decent of them.

  • It’s Just Me

    The huge tree in front of my house looked completely healthy right up until a huge branch just dropped off in a light wind and smashed a SUV. I, for one, and glad that the DC government is proactively looking for sick trees. Sure, I really miss the tree out front, but I’d rather have it gone then in my living room.

  • Mickey’s BFF

    Casey Trees is a non profit org whose mission is to preserve and protect the tree canopy in DC. If you have a yard, they will help you choose the right tree for your soil, light, etc. It may help you feel better about losing your “street tree”. I used to live on 21st St NW. We had a gorgeous Bradford pear in our yard that provided shade from the afternoon sun. The 90 year old goofball who managed the bldg got a bug in his tush about cutting it down. He claimed a DC arborist told him it was dead. It hurt my heart to see it dismembered and thrown in a chopper a la Fargo. I asked the contractor if the tree diseased or rotted. They said it absolutely was not and there was no reason to take it down. Sickening.
    Anyway, thanks for letting me vent. It obviously still bothers me greatly. Check out Casey Trees website.

    • Anon

      Bradfort pears are invasive and short lived trees (20-25 yrs +/-). Then they start cracking, limbs die and drop off
      There are plenty of native trees that are fast growing and provide good shade

      • anon

        Bldg manager may have been proactive about risk in removing tree at the end of its projected healthy life span BEFORE it was at risk for internal rot and serious damage. (I hope to take the same approach to my own lifespan.) Hope they replaced it with another (which I will go not having done, but that’s OK.)

      • Bradford pears are beautiful, overplanted, terribly flawed trees that are notorious for splitting in storms. Many of the local ones practically exploded during Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

        • We have two Bradford Pears in our front yard. I have hated them since I was a kid – their flowers give me massive headaches in the spring. We bought our house at the end of winter – when they bloomed and I realized what they were I was not amused.

      • textdoc

        A friend of mine always joked that Bradford pear trees were “self-pruning.”

  • OldinAM

    The cultivar we know as Bradford Pear was developed locally by USDA researchers and first made available to the public in the early ’60s. It was widely planted in the area.


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