Witnessing Two Old Cedar Trees Cut Down

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    Emmy Bell

    I feel like I’m witnessing a horrific crime with no one to call and report to. Private property dictates anyone can kill the trees without regard to the animals that live in them and the people that love them. My heart is breaking while I watch five men descend upon these beautiful trees outside my window and hack them to death over the next few hours. There is a raven’s nest established in one and I can’t imagine what they’ll do when they get to it. The ravens have been dive bombing them without success protecting their young. I can’t bare to watch but if I walk away from the carnage I feel like I’m abandoning a dear old friend in their worst time of need. All I can do is comfort them as they are slowly dismembered leaving a large open gap in the neighborhood and in my heart. Are all the cedars diseased in this area? Four more before them were taken down this last month or is it just human restlestness and fear that they may someday cause damage to their precious homes. What if trees could stomp us because we pose a potential and real threat to them? This neighborhood isn’t worth living in without them. They matter. They are old friends and I’ll grieve in their passing as I am right now. If anyone else gives a s**t this should be brought up with City Council. I would’ve liked to know this was being proposed and why. Killing trees should be a decision of the many who are affected by the loss and not the whim of one “property owner”. I’m not interested in anyone’s argument that private property dictates we do what we want. I know that old rule and it no longer applies. I want to know how to restore out connection to our environment through policies that are are supportive of living beings thriving as they should and as their right. What we do to our environment we do to ourselves.

    A quote from Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in Without Going Crazy by Joanna Macy and Chris Brownstone

    If we felt the pain of loss each time an ecosystem was destroyed, a species wiped out, or a child killed by war or starvation, we wouldn’t be able to continue living the way we do. It would tear us apart inside. The losses continue because they aren’t registered, they aren’t marked, they aren’t seen as important. By choosing to honor the pain of loss rather than discounting it, we break the spell that numbs us to the dismantling of our world.

    These cedar trees and their inhabitants being killed before my eyes are registered, marked and important. That is the least I can do for them. As our world is further dismantled I am awake, watching and registering and it’s f***ing heartbreaking.



    there has been some pretty aggressive tree removal in our neighborhood this year.. and not all due to the “raingardens” the city is installing.

    i weep with you.



    Wow, can we get the moderator to interject here?



    Sad….. :-(




    I love Seattle……….



    stopthemadness. …..you do realize that the editor of this blog does not moderate this forum full time…right? So…since you brought this up, what is it about the post that you find so egregious?



    First, I did report it, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not I “realize” how this blog works. As for my reasons, hmm, let’s see:

    1) profanity (I believe this is against the “rules”)

    2) it’s crazy (not sure on this one)

    Let’s look at some of the verbiage used: horrific, killing, dismembered, destroyed, starvation (I won’t retype the profanity).

    I believe people have noted here before things like “first world problems”, but I don’t even think this would qualify. I’m all for protecting the environment, but this rant is more unhinged then helpful.



    I fully support the OP. All of the verbiage cited is accurate. At the very least, tree murder during spring nesting season should be prohibited.

    True, profanity is not allowed on the blog, no matter how well deserved. But it really is the rampant deforestation that has taken place in Seattle over the last 20 years that is CRAZY as well as PROFANE. This is a madness that should truly be stopped.



    Unfortunately sometimes it’s necessary. We had to do this once. People often plant trees like this with no foresight into how close to houses or power lines they were planting, or how big they’ll get. 50 years later, those trees are lovely, but can cause a lot of problems or become dangerous.



    shihtzu is right, we’re facing cutting down a massive cedar that is dangerously close to our house and we lay awake at night terrified in the windstorms that it will have to come down. Sometimes these things cant be avoided…



    I just saw the movie Noah this last week. Maybe “the creator” (as quoted in the movie) will bring back the floods and cleanse the world while the innocent are spared on a big boat so they can start anew and the world can be in balance. On second thought, that level of genocide might be a little crazy…



    Very sorry for this loss, Emmy Bell. Some people are able to form true bonds with nature, reaping many joys but also sharing more deeply in the suffering of other species. It is a gift! Thank you for standing with and honoring the trees and their inhabitants, and I hope you can let the criticism roll off with the rain …



    shihtzu is mostly right – I see a lot of extremely foolish human choices for tree location. Keep in mind that nature planted a lot of these trees without our help, and there are foolish human choices in regard to home placement as well. However, there is also a “big tree” phobia that is unjustified. A healthy, majestic tree growing a reasonable distance from a house is not a threat under normal conditions. In fact, the cutting of these big trees (which provide a windbreak) creates an unstable and dangerous environment in which MORE trees are likely to come down. These trees fill an essential environmental niche, not just for our local ecosystem, but for the entire planet.



    Neighbors behind us and slightly over cut down a large tree in February 2013 and we assume it was to enhance their view. We contacted the City and they told us it was illegal to cut in this area without a permit due to the environmental risk (steep slope with slide hazard) however when we followed up they told us they had no record of our previous call. Checking the DPD log today shows it is still unresolved complaint (from March 2013). Basically, I got the impression that once the tree is gone there is nothing they can do about it. So we just have to hope that the damage to the slope is minimal. Hope the neighbors enjoy their view.



    We didn’t receive any flags on this. However, the internal e-mail system is still not working consistently, and won’t until the complete overhaul kicks in (months of work until everything can be moved over, but it’s under way).

    As for the post itself, the post’er called us earlier and since she said she had reported this to the city and they said there was nothing they could do – there ARE tree regulations now, regarding what size and type of trees can and can’t be cut – but I don’t know anything re: why they didn’t apply here (don’t know where this is happening, either) – we told her a forum post was probably most appropriate here. I just read it and didn’t see anything inappropriate but two profanities which I have altered.



    Michael Waldo

    We bought a house a few years ago. We had an arborist come by for a consult, as we had 5 large evergreen trees on the property. He told us that two, huge, hemlocks must come down as someone stupidly topped them years ago and they were not stable and were dangerous. Plus one had a fungal disease. When we come up with the 2 thousand dollars per tree to take them down , we will. And I certainly don’t want some neighbor going hysterical over our decision, as they will not know what we know about the hazards of the trees. Instead of going unhinged, plant some trees of your own. Trees, like all plants, have a life cycle.



    We had to take out a beautiful large tree this year. Very sad and we miss it, loved looking at it through our windows for years. This was a very old tree well over 40, the women who planted it as a young girl came buy once a year while attending West Seattle High reunions. We tried to stop the little worms that were eating from the inside out. It was getting weaker month over month we finally had to have it cut down before it blew over hurting someone or someone’s car or home. I would hope no arborist would take down a tree unnecessarily, we had three come out all said it needed to come down. After those strong winds we had a months ago I am sure our tree would have fallen. Maybe West Seattle has a lot of trees in this age group going though ruff times.



    My parents had to take down a beautiful oak tree next to our house, about 25 years ago. We loved it, but it had been hit by lightning (twice) and was rotting from the inside.

    On the upside, it yielded about ten years’ worth of firewood.



    I’m a retired arborist/horticulturalist with a certificate in urban forestry. There is no question that a diseased tree should be taken down, and Michael Waldo makes the astute observation that, to the untrained eye, this might appear to be wanton tree destruction. From what I’m seeing, this is not often the case. Most of the large trees I see being cut are perfectly healthy. It is incorrect that an arborist will not take down a healthy tree – most arborists will do what they’re paid to do. There is no Hippocratic oath taken by arborists.

    There was an ordinance passed in Seattle a few years ago prohibiting the cutting of more than 3 trees per year over a certain caliper. Of course, developers are exempt. It’s basically another toothless law. The trend toward cutting down trees on public property to open up “views” is disturbing. Why water (or a city skyline)is considered a view and trees are not is beyond me.



    I live on a fairly large lot by city standards (over half of which is essentially woods) and have removed several large trees over the years. Only one wasn’t diseased and that was because it was in a very poor location and had overgrown to the point of negating my capacity to grow my vegetables.

    I have let grow a number of volunteers of various species that are in more appropriate places and are already on their way to being fine substitutes for the ones I’ve taken down and then some.

    My lot looks more open than it used to (and some folks have given me concerned looks when the felling started) but in another 5-10 yrs. it will look denser than it did in the 1940’s when this area was cleared to build homes. The placement of individual trees where they should live long happy lives being the main difference.

    I suspect that we’ll be living in a cityscape that features more deciduous and smaller varieties of trees than once populated these parts. Yet another tradeoff of built vs. natural environments.



    And on a semi-related note, I’ve been noticing that the population of the beautiful Port Orford Cedars in Lincoln Park has been dwindling substantially over the last 5-10 yrs. I suspect root disease (fungus) but it could be some other infestation? Sad.

    Hopefully we’ll maintain the Madrona (Arbutus) stand going forward. Really not many stands left in the city and unfortunately not one on my lot. I should go find a sapling. Do local nurseries carry them?



    Sorry for your pain, Emmy Bell. I feel as you do. The immense joy that nature brings me so often is turned to pain when I see its thoughtless destruction. I understand that there are good reasons to take trees down – I myself will have to do so at some point as i made a poor planting choice. But to do so this time of year when birds and squirrels are nesting is unconscionable. And to do so for the sake of a view is equally unconscionable



    Emmy Bell, you can help on this. The Dept of Planning and Development has an Initiative in work right now to update Private Property Tree Rules. Go to this DPD website and contact Brennon Staley, and he can tell you where the project is at and how you can comment. Please get involved soon, I believe there will be an open house on their proposals in May.

    Cindi Barker




    A tree can absorb up to 48 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Imagine how we could help reduce global warming by planting more trees.

    “Something to think about: The Earth is 4.6 billion years old. Let’s scale that to 46 years. We have been here for 4 hours. Our industrial revolution began 1 minute ago. In that time, we have destroyed more than 50% of the world’s forests.

    This isn’t sustainable.” Sad.



    Related thought: That impact started before the industrial revolution – at least as it pertained to trees.

    It took SIX THOUSAND mature oak trees to build one of her majestie’s three deck warships in the 15th & 16th centuries. That’s clear-cutting 30-50 ACRES of old growth for just one ship.

    Doesn’t take long for that to add up to what happened in short order, they ran out of timbers and had to import “inferior” wood from the Baltic.

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