UPDATE, 4:21 p.m.
The Asheville Police Department has issued the following statement about Hanrahan’s protest:
On 03-29-11, at approx 1129 hours, the City of Asheville Police Department responded to 1 Battery Park Ave. in downtown Asheville in response to 62 year old, Clare Marie Hanrahan, who had chained herself to a tree that had been selected for removal by City Arborist David Foster. According to responding officers, Mr. Foster explained to Ms. Hanrahan, that the tree was distressed, dying; and had to be removed, however Ms. Hanrahan was concerned that the tree was currently in bloom and that the city should at least wait until that particular cycle had been completed.
After many minutes of compromise back and forth facilitated by the Asheville Police Department, it was decided that the work crew would not remove the tree (Bradford Pear) until it had finished blooming. In return Ms. Hanrahan voluntarily removed her bicycle chain which had locked her to the tree and left the area.
It was determined during the ongoing conversation with Ms. Hanrahan that she also planned to do the same thing at a Magnolia tree at the old Asheville Ford location where a Harris Teeter is planning to be built. She also said that there was a sycamore tree in the downtown area (that she would not identify), that she was going to chain herself to keep it from being removed.
It should be noted that when responding officers gave Ms. Hanrahan her options, she was not opposed to jail and has spent time in Federal Prison for trespassing on a military base.
At 11 a.m., Clare Hanrahan tied herself to one of the pear trees with a bike lock. When asked why she’s fighting for these trees, Hanrahan replied: “Just look at them… it’s the fullness of spring and whatever their argument for cutting them, they could have waited to cut them down. I don’t want to see these trees come down without a ritual or acknowledgment, honoring their beauty. We have to do what our hearts call us to do.”
Compromising with Hanrahan, the city has agreed to leave the two remaining pear trees standing until they have finished blossoming.
BREAKING NEWS: The city of Asheville is removing some trees in the Central Business District, including these Bradford pears in front of the Haywood Park Hotel. Arborist Mark Foster has noted, ““People planted Bradford pears because they are attractive when they bloom and they are urban tolerant.’ Foster says. ‘It wasn’t until they began falling apart 15 or 20 years later that people realized it wasn’t such a good idea.’”
Last year, one of the trees lost a limb when a delivery truck failed to clear the overhanging branches. As stated in a city of Asheville blog about the latest round of tree removal, “Older Bradford pear trees, Foster says, are highly susceptible to broken limbs during storms, and heavier limbs become a hazard if they extend over sidewalks and traffic. And, he says, the trees grow wide canopies that tend to impact buildings like the Haywood Park Hotel, the owners of which agree with Foster’s assessment. [These trees], along with the others being removed, will be replaced with young, stronger and easier to maintain specimens like fruitless sweet gum and Cleveland select pear trees.”
photos by Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt