Or at least the Mercer Island Arborist, who can be presumed to speak for the trees. I left her a message a while back after a fierce windstorm. She was very nice when she called me back.
I was asking whether we should be concerned about the tall trees in the neighborhood blowing down. We bought our house from owners who had cut down three tall trees in the last two years, weakening the grove around. That seems to be common around the Island– groves are thinned over time, and there are few young trees.
My understanding of the MI tree situation based on our conversation:
Planting and Cutting Down Trees
If you remove trees from a grove, the grove is weaker than before. Planting new trees is great: the city lets people plant trees wherever they like and whatever they like, although there are some restrictions in certain geologic hazard area like streams, wetlands, or steep slopes.
They also encourage people not to plant big tall trees in the middle of someone’s view. That’s being a good neighbor.
To cut down trees, you need a permit two years before and two years after construction. That’s to avoid clearcuts, although those have happened. The commercial zone needs permit to remove anything because those buildings went through design review.
Also, what many people don’t know is that right of way trees (on roads) are protected. Parks and easements are also protected. And state and federal regulations protect our 6 eagle circles (there’s a map in city hall).
Health of the Island’s Grove
The arborist couldn’t make a statement on this but did note that we have had a lot of construction on the Island, and we still have a lot of great trees. More info from the city is here.
And by the way, Arbor Day is April 11.
How to Get Trees
There are plenty of nice nurseries around: Squak Mountain, Bellevue Nursury, Wells Medina and Molbaks. The Arbor Day Foundation will also send you ten trees with a $10 membership. Most of the choices are short or flowering trees, except the Eastern Red Cedar option which can grow to 40 feet.
40 feet isn’t so tall in the West.
If you plant a tree or two, you’ll need to water it through the summer. Plant tall trees in places where they can support each other, since single tall trees are much weaker than groves. It might help keep the Island semi-wooded after the big construction boom of the last few years.
Bonus Link: Hour of Darkness
In other tree-hugging news, the Reporter notes that Mercer Island had joined the national hour of darkness tonight between 830 and 930 pm. Parks and city facilities are shutting off lights and the city’s asking homes to do so as well.
Photos: Top, caitlinburke on flickr. Bottom: fcps.edu.