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Forum, May 19: Unnecessary, poorly timed tree-cutting in Claremont

Published: 5/18/2020 10:00:07 PM
Modified: 5/18/2020 10:00:03 PM
Unnecessary, poorly timed tree-cutting in Claremont

For five years I have walked almost daily under the seven magnificent, towering pines that once lived by Claremont’s Marion Phillips Apartments. I loved those trees and the one next door. Then suddenly, last week, all eight were cut down. I called the executive director’s number at Marion Phillips and was told branches had fallen, implying danger, and the trees had to be removed.

First, branches fall, and so, using that logic, we should cut down every tree in the city. Second, conifers naturally wean out lower branches that don’t get enough sunlight to prioritize upper branches with needles that can complete photosynthesis. For safety, prune the lower branches.

Heartbroken, I photographed their stumps, which reminded me of The Giving Tree, a book about human greed. Most showed intact cores. Three pines on city property between the sidewalk and the street had healthy cores. Three others had some center “decay,” which does not mean, necessarily, the trees were dying. Such trees can survive; all cores are “dead” wood, which can rot and not impact the their overall health.

Trees can set up internal barriers and thrive, because a tree’s “living” tissue is the outer layer beneath the bark, where water and nutrients and sap flow. And these trees had another advantage; living in groups, they nourished and defended one another, through their touching roots, against disease (but not against humans!), according to The Hidden Life of Trees by forester Peter Wohlleben.

Apparently, no independent tree experts were consulted. Consulting only tree surgeons is not necessarily in the best interest of trees, because the people with the saws make money cutting down trees. And why destroy trees now, in spring, when defenseless baby birds and squirrels cannot flee the chain saws?

Did the Claremont Housing Authority Commission and the city incorporate in their decision-making a full knowledge of conifers, compassion for wildlife, and a healthy skepticism of tree surgeons? If they had, I wager the majority — perhaps all — of those regal trees, which are important carbon sinks, would be alive, today, protecting life on the planet.

MARGARET D. HURLEY

Claremont

Missing the point on masks

I would just like to make a brief comment on a point raised in the May 12 front page article “Shops reopen as restrictions ease.”

A customer at a barber shop was quoted as saying, “We can’t go on like this. If you’re healthy, you don’t need a mask.” This comment is missing the point of a huge challenge in dealing with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

That point is that people who have COVID-19 are infectious for several days before expressing symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”). In addition, people who have COVID-19 are infectious for at least several days even if the infection doesn’t result in any symptoms (“asymptomatic”). Therefore, we wear masks to reduce the chances of inadvertently passing the virus to others while we may be feeling healthy, and we wear masks to reduce the chances of becoming infected from others who may also be feeling healthy.

It is a way of saying, “I will try to protect you while you try to protect me.”

PAUL ETKIND

Grantham

Dr. Anthony Fauci has a long history of wise advice

In 1971, Dr. Anthony Fauci was a revered chief medical resident at New York Hospital. George Vas, my best friend at Pitt Medical School and Fauci’s junior resident in New York, recently told me that Fauci always showed up to help with a crisis. He was there on the fourth floor, and a half hour later on the 23rd. He was smart, calm, supportive and a great teacher.

In 1990, Dr. Fauci demonstrated the same clear-headed and honest coaching to our Dartmouth Medical School group as we were developing a state protocol for the emergency room management of sexual assault victims. DNA analysis, or “finger-printing,” and its forensic role were not yet established.

At the time, Dr. Fauci was helping with the genome project and the global HIV crisis. He wisely and correctly advised us to include samples for genetic analysis in our guidelines.

WILLIAM YOUNG

Hanover




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