Why so hard to fashion a tree law? | TheUnion.com

Why so hard to fashion a tree law?

Nevada City’s pending tree ordinance apparently has managed to anger everyone.

The City Council has slapped a moratorium on cutting trees until they can fashion a law closing a loophole they feel could result in the toppling of venerable “heritage trees.” Homeowners are upset because they are blocked from cutting down dead trees that are threatening their homes. Arborists object because the law wouldn’t discriminate in what kinds of trees to protect.

We’re not sure why it has taken nine meetings by a special committee to come up with a law that has managed to offend just about everyone – especially when it seems that there should be plenty of common ground:

• Everyone wants to protect the stately trees of Nevada City. How hard is it to specify what kinds of specimens go high on the preservation list and which fast-growing, “weedy” species are more vulnerable to the ax?

• Everyone agrees that any kind of dead tree is a hazard to people, homes, and power lines and should come down as soon as possible – with public money, if necessary.

• And everyone should realize that diseased trees – especially those hit by the devastating bark beetle – are threats to the entire northern Sierra that cannot be ignored. Millions of trees over thousands of acres have died in Southern California, helping fuel the most destructive wildfires in state history. On visits to Tahoe recently, who can ignore huge tracts of brown, dying forest claimed by the bark beetles, which kill trees by cutting off their flow of water and nutrients?

So how hard can it be to fashion a law that fosters the survival of the stateliest, healthiest trees and mandates the swift removal of dead, diseased and fire-vulnerable trees – not only in Nevada City, but Grass Valley, too?

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