This essay was originally posted by Katie Rogers at her blog, The SparkLit.
Forgive the dramatic title, but I have a point. Read on.
In short, approximately 250 trees are slated to be bulldozed in Mountain Brook/Birmingham, Alabama beginning the first week of September.
Ironically, Mountain Brook, Alabama calls itself Tree City USA. Indeed, the diversity, size, and number of trees in Mountain Brook is impressive. It’s a beautiful sight – in the fall with the golds and reds, in the spring with its blossoms, in the summer with the (God bless it) much-needed shade. In a way, it’s our pride and joy, right? If there is one thing Birmingham has, it’s a lovely array of trees.
I’ve learned, however, that when there is an abundance of something, humans have a tendency to take it for granted. We’ve all heard the old adage, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” So you would think that when over 200 trees are to be cut down in the heart of Mountain Brook, there would be some fuss about it, right?
You’d think. But let me ask: is the first time you are hearing about this?
It is? Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. I attended a Tree Commission meeting for the City of Mountain Brook. There were approximately eight people in attendance, all members except myself and another fellow. And even some of those attendees – members of the Tree Commission, mind you! – did not realize that this many trees were to be cut down.
So, let me re-phrase. You have heard of it. It’s the Lane Parke development. What you see in the photos are apartments that have been around a long, long time. You know them. The apartments where either you lived, your best friend lived, your parents lived, or your brother lived? Everyone knows someone who has lived there it seems. They are truly part of Birmingham’s history.
Yet, not only will they be demolishing all of these classic, sturdy buildings, but they will also be tearing down every tree in sight, and many more. Bye-bye to a chunk of Mountain Brook’s canopy. And right in prime locale too. In fact, the Park Lane Apartments are directly across from the Birmingham Botanical Garden. So much for Tree City USA.
Why are they doing this, you ask? There will be stores, an inn, and some new apartments in its place. And parking–lots and lots and lots of parking. (I can hear Joni Mitchell singing right now.) Not only are approximately 200 trees on the Park Lane property going to be wiped out, but because they think that widening Park Lane Road is a good idea, they will also be taking out some trees that belong to Birmingham’s Botanical Garden that line Park Lane Road. Property of Birmingham, mind you.
The above photo was taken this morning, Wednesday, at approximately 8:30 AM (rush hour). These trees are surrounding Birmingham’s Botanical Garden, and are therefore Birmingham property. They too will be cut down. All of them. Notice the shade in the photo; none of that will be there. The trees across the street are part of Park Lane.
So why do I care?
Because I’m a certified arborist. That means I know a lot about trees. But much much much more than that, it means I care about trees. And the more that I’ve learned about them over the years, the more impressed I’ve become.
I won’t go into the benefits of trees here (it’s too long for this particular post). But I am asking you to spread the word about these gorgeous, planet-cooling, shade-making, animal-housing, oxygen-producing, air-cleaning, rainwater-capturing amazing trees that benefit Mountain Brook and Birmingham more than we could ever understand. Everyone in this community should know about this development before it happens, and have a chance to speak out if they feel inclined.
After all, the trees are humble. They aren’t going to shout out all the good that they do for the world. They can’t yell for a chainsaw to stop. They can’t debate, whine, plead, cry out, or persuade.
They don’t have voices, but we do. They can’t fight for their lives, but we can. After all, we mourned the losses of the trees in the tornadoes; we mourned the losses of the trees at Auburn; I just hope we don’t have to mourn these too.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? (I’m working on the best avenues, but to begin….)
1. Please write or call one or all of the following people on the Tree Commission of Mountain Brook and tell them how you feel.
2. SPREAD THE WORD — Share this post on Facebook. Comment here. Email me with your desire to help. Even if you live outside of Birmingham, we need you! Change happens in numbers.