Color Penfield Green's Letter to the Town Board Regarding Replacing Trees
Dear Supervisor La Fountain and Board Members,
Color Penfield Green members recently viewed our town board meeting of 1/13/21 where you discussed cutting a swath of trees 20’ in from the sidewalk for safety reasons. First of all, thank you for taking a proactive approach to public safety. Secondly, we would like to weigh in on the possible new policy for tree replacement.
We appreciate that you are open to changing the town's policy on replacing the trees and we strongly believe that they should indeed be replaced and with appropriate native trees, understanding that there will be budget implications. If possible, new trees should be planted in locations that could shade buildings to reduce energy usage in the summer.
We applaud the town board members’ and Mr. Tate’s comments in trying to avoid clear cutting an area, removing the dying ash while preserving healthy interspersed maples or others. While we don’t have all of the information leading to the decision to take down an entire stand of healthy trees (50-60 mature healthy maples, elms, cottonwoods and willow trees whose remaining stumps measure 2-3’ in diameter) when a half dozen dead ash were removed in the Penbrooke neighborhood, we hope the town will avoid clear cuts like this in the future.
In relatively wild locations like the area by 250 and Whalen, please consider leaving some of the smaller dead trees standing. Dead trees or ‘snags’ are essential to our wildlife and wherever it is appropriate a few should be left in place (see Snags - The Wildlife Tree).
Why do we feel this way?
Trees naturally sequester carbon (a New York State priority) and reduce local temperature. The Climate Action Council’s Land Use and Local Government’s Advisory Panel just hosted a recent webinar: “Carbon Sequestration of Forests and Trees Learning Session”. During this session (minutes not available to the public yet), Dr. Andrew Reinmenn discussed the advantages of suburban trees: they sequester more carbon than those in forest interiors and provide the very significant co-benefit of decreasing local temperatures, dramatically decreasing the need for air conditioning. (In one study in MA, A/C use increased by 40% when trees along a suburban street were clear cut due to pest infestation.)
Native trees are also host plants to our native pollinators. It is important that we make wise decisions in how we manage our land and choose appropriate plants to replace dying native species in the town of Penfield. Current research shows that our insects are in steep decline over the last 40 years which pollinate 90% of our food crops. As we lose our native trees that support our native pollinators we are weakening the ecosystem on which we depend (see Doug Tallamy’s 3 minute video and article).
Color Penfield Green’s new campaign called Healthy Yards is hosting a four part zoom nature series this February through the Penfield and Pittsford libraries called Encouraging Nature in You Own Backyard. The choices we make in our yards and town property determine the health of our natural ecosystem which in turn support us.
The National Wildlife Federation's native plant finder by zip code offers information on best native plants to use based on their ability to support our pollinators and based on Tallamy’s research. We encourage the town to use keystone native species in their tree replacement efforts. The Genesee Valley Audubon Society offers an appropriate native plant list for our region based on Tallamy’s research as well.
We look to our leaders to make wise choices not only for us presently but also for the health of future generations in our town of Penfield.
Thank you very much,
Megan Meyer and Katie Rygg
Color Penfield Green
If you feel the same, please contact our board members and let them know!
Email Supervisor Tony LaFountain: firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at the Town Hall at: (585) 340-8630.
Possible script: "My name is ____ and I live at [your street address]. Thank you very much for your proactive approach to public safety in managing dead or dying trees in town while preserving healthy trees on site. I would also like to see new, native trees planted either in the same location or elsewhere in Penfield to replace any taken down. Thank you."