The Price of Progress
by Casey P. Roland
Once again, the powers that be have set their sights (crosshairs) on our beloved Tree of the Year, the Clay Street Cottonwood. Making “room” for housing will be the demise of this stately Fremont Cottonwood specimen.
When I saw the Clay St. Cottonwoods (There were two of them) for the first time about ten years ago, my jaw dropped! Chances are, when these trees came west many years ago as seedlings, their conveyance probably needed a farrier more than a mechanic. They were surely planted as “Mom & Pop” trees by a young couple in front of their new farmhouse.
So what then is the value of this tree?
As firewood, not much. As lumber, there isn’t a mill in the state that would touch it. Carbon offset? Now we are getting somewhere! Wildlife habitat? Yep! Intrinsic value? Absolutely! The myriad of lame excuses calling for the destruction of this tenured giant ranges from, “I hate cottonwoods,” to “It drops limbs,” and the latest, (you are going to love this one) “It is an allergen to the children.” HA!
Give me a break…
While I would not want to live UNDER this tree, I sure as heck would enjoy living next to it! If you walk up to this tree and it does not speak to you, you are either deaf, or you just don’t care to listen… Firing up the saw should be the dead-last option regarding this piece of history! Leave this tree to enjoy its retirement years. It has earned it. Build your project around it, make whatever changes to your plan you have to, put up an, “Enter at your own risk,” sign or two, do the right thing. Every time I see this tree, my reaction is, “WOW!” And that my friends, is priceless…