Destroying trees along the highway is a low thing to do

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
Black Mountain

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12 thoughts on “Destroying trees along the highway is a low thing to do

  1. Yahoosquatch

    The NCDOT just wasted the most beautiful red maple on the Brock Park West bound shoulder median side of I-40. The tree was a sentinel of the stage of Fall encountered along the Valley from day to day…..all that is left was a stump as of the other day. Another make-work, proud day for DOT I’m sure…..couldn’t salvage a single beautiful tree from the wanton destruction? Horse pucky!$!%&*

  2. Alex

    Nah, they answer to the reactionary right wing radical state house, which has turned Teabagger because so many of us Democrats decided to stay home last November. Teabaggers hate trees because the Kock brothers hate them.

  3. bill smith

    Out of curiosity, is the letter writer aware that trees were removed to make room for her home, driveway, and I-40 itself?

    ————-

    I REALLY dislike it when people use terms like ‘clear-cut’ so inaccurately.

    Comparing ‘clear-cutting’ in the “Amazon” to the removal of a few tress along an interstate is ridiculous and smacks of hysteria.

    An interstate is not an ecosystem, or a forest. “Clear-cutting” refers to the removal of vast swaths of trees and vegetation n a functioning forest. The side of an interstate is not a forest.

    Has the letter writer tried to contact the DOT to find out what reasons the had to remove the trees? There are a lot of assumptions being made in this letter

  4. JWTJr

    “interstate is not an ecosystem, or a forest. “Clear-cutting” refers to the removal of vast swaths of trees and vegetation n a functioning forest. The side of an interstate is not a forest.”

    I’m glad Bill, that you’re not in charge of any trees near me. They’d all be at risk with your definitions. The Amazon … really? You had to go there? Nice effort to keep things in our local context.

  5. “Out of curiosity, is the letter writer aware that trees were removed to make room for her home, driveway, and I-40 itself?”

    That is patently ridiculous. Driveways cannot by law connect to an Interstate. The Interstate had plenty of room. I suspect this is simply a way to burn stimulus funds.

    “An interstate is not an ecosystem, or a forest. “Clear-cutting” refers to the removal of vast swaths of trees and vegetation n a functioning forest. The side of an interstate is not a forest.”

    Bill, it is glaringly obvious that we had different Ecology/Forestry professors. (I DID have one, actually several.) Any bit of land can be considered an ecosystem, even an Interstate berm (it is usually considered an “ecotone”, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecotone), which is a corridor for plants, particularly for edge species and their associated wildlife. It can also be considered a forest, as any place with a growth of trees (especially volunteer or self planted) can be considered a forest. See; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest . And, clear cutting can refer to that activity on a half acre or on a hundred square miles.
    JWTJr is right; why go to the Amazon? Each of those trees was getting to the age to actually contribute to oxygen production – it is not only the Amazon producing Oxygen, but the north temperate forests, including the Interstate verges.

  6. bill smith

    JWT and Alex- The reference to the Amazon was the letter-writer’s, not mine.

    She is the one who compared the side of an interstate to a vast rainforest.

    [i]That is patently ridiculous. Driveways cannot by law connect to an Interstate. [/i]

    How did you get from what I said to that?

    My point is that trees were likely removed to make way for things she enjoys, like her home, the interstate, and her driveway.

    I’m not defending the removal of the trees. We haven’t been given any reason, so I don’t feel the need to speculate. I’m merely commenting on the hysterical comparison to the removal of a few trees from an interstate to the clear-cutting of the Amazon rainforest by the letter writer.

  7. bill smith

    @JWT and Alex-The reference to the Amazon is the letter writer’s, not mine. Perhaps read the letter before commenting next time.

  8. JWTJr

    Her comparison was superfluous at best. You jumped all over it with your rant about what ‘you dislike’.

  9. Lulu

    I am currently enrolled in an environmental biology class. We have been discussing these issues. First off, I drive a truck and those trees served as windbreakers. Second, the interstate is a disturbance to the ecosystem so the median is part of the ecosystem. Besides the fact that trees give off oxygen, they also help control erosion. The DOT didn’t “clear-cut” but they came real close. There are only a couple of trees left within the miles that they cut. People come to our area to enjoy the natural scenery and the DOT is taking that away. I realize that some trees had to be cut down to make way for houses and such but when you’re cutting down trees to plant pretty, non-native flowers, it’s more destructive that what it’s worth. You can disagree but as a population we are destroying Earth. I believe what Mrs. Engelhardt was getting at is that we are destroying the earth whether it be in the Amazon or in WNC. We need to thouroughly think about the consequences of every action we take. We don’t get another Earth and we can’t undo what damage we cause. Yes, we can plant more trees but do you understand what kind of a process this is?

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