All the trees on [Interstate] 40 along the sloped median strip from Exit 64 to Exit 55 are being clear-cut. Not trimmed, but totally destroyed. I do not believe road hazard — or visibility or whatever explanation the North Carolina Department of Transportation chooses to present — justifies this total destruction of the environment.
Now that the trees are gone, there is increased road distraction, as drivers can see traffic along the upper roadway as it comes east; this will be especially distracting at night in the glare of oncoming headlights. The beauty and life-enhancing properties of those trees can never be recovered. What will now anchor the soil on those slopes? Where will the runoff from heavy rains go? This was one of the most beautiful drives west toward Asheville. Trees on both sides of the road created a screen of beauty and increased drivers’ visibility of the road ahead by outlining the edges of the highway. The trees provided a cooling border to an overheated roadway. What was the distorted thinking that led to this wanton act of environmental destruction?
North Carolina spends large sums of money to plant flowers that beautify the roads. To cut down a stand of trees that provides beauty and shade and pays us back with life-giving oxygen suggests that this action was unencumbered by the thought process. When are "we" going to get it that everything is connected? People and their cars and trucks and roads must coexist in their environment and, yes, that includes trees. It’s a system and we’re all part of it. Who among us can’t see that we are living on a wildly imbalanced planet right now? When are we going to have decision-makers who can see the forest for the trees, whose actions are based on consideration of the systems we are part of?
Those trees just destroyed on I-40 matter. They matter a lot and they matter to all of us. When are we going to wake up and realize that continued environmental destruction, in the Amazon or along I-40, imperils us and this web of life as we know it? If we want a future, we must make different choices.
— Joan Engelhardt