Letter writer: Heritage trees need city protection

FELLED: Letter writer Kira Jahn stands beside a silver leaf maple tree before it was cut down recently. Photo courtesy of Kira Jahn

Editor’s note: The following letter was received after efforts failed to prevent a silver leaf maple tree, estimated to be almost 200 years old, from being cut down on Broad Street in North Asheville.

Despite best efforts, the silver leaf [maple tree] is gone … This is a tragedy, not only for the silver leaf, but for all of us. The trunk of the tree, when toppled, stood a good 15 feet high. It is difficult to describe how terrible is the sight of this special tree cut in pieces to the ground, killed for nothing …

I say it died for nothing, but that does not have to be the case. This tree can die to serve a larger purpose, if we want it to be so. It can die having raised awareness that this type of wanton destruction is happening all over Asheville, all the time, and that this needs to stop right now, and that only we can do it.

We cannot rely on individuals to preserve these ancient trees. That much is abundantly clear. There must be a mechanism by which developers are forced to justify the cutting of these trees. In this way, the loss of this great heritage tree will have been a sacrifice worthy of its gracious life.

I want to thank the many people, over 1,000 of you, who took the time to write comments and share stories of similar losses of legacy trees. These comments were read by members of Asheville’s City Council. They heard you.

I believe City Council must pass an ordinance of the type I described above. If it had been already in place, the silver leaf would be alive right now, as it should be and has been since 1836, the year it was born. Asheville should no longer tolerate our historic trees being mowed down like summer weeds.

Blessings to all who took the time to support the petition to “Save The Ancient Silver Leaf.” Thank you.

— Kira Jahn

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