Tree trouble for midtown neighborhood

Tree trouble: neighbors say city pruning is killing trees

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - Tucson will soon consider a policy which would bring tree trimming, maintenance and pruning under one agency.

Right now, there are basically nine different departments, groups or agencies that can trim or prune trees whenever they feel the need to.

“There’s no one point of contact, there’s no one person going out doing an assessment of what needs to be done,” said Steve Kozachik, Tucson city council member in Ward 6. “So we have everybody sort of free wheeling and nobody is accountable to anybody.”

Kozachik would like for that to change and has made suggestions to city management, none of which have been acted upon.

He supports the one agency concept and has suggested Tucson Clean and Beautiful, who has skilled arborists be that agency.

“Let them make an assessment of a specific job site, say trim these limbs and these trees,” he said. “So we don’t have someone come out and butcher the trees.”

Tucson has been losing its tree canopy for decades which can cause problems.

Trees provide shade, keep down energy costs and help clean the air. However, as the canopy shrinks, the benefits decrease as well.

That’s why Tucson has embarked on a program to plant more trees, including Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild’s 10,000 tree program.

But if the city is killing trees, what’s the sense.

Kris Yarter, Vice President of the Garden District in mid-town, helped plant two trees in a center island meant to slow down traffic on Bellevue near Columbus, 18 years ago.

One is a sweet acacia which she says “I watered these trees, I pruned these trees carefully to shape them.”

10 days ago, city of Tucson workers pruned the trees, or as she says, “butchered them.”

Of the sweet acacia, “I don’t think this tree is going to make it.”

The trees have lost their shape, which may take ten years to regain.

When city workers were pruning the trees she asked them to stop but the worker said he was trained to do so.

Yarter, a 30 year biologist who was taught how to trim trees at the University of Arizona said “no trained aborist would prune a tree like this.”

She was able to make calls to the city to insure the worker didn’t have a chance to prune other trees in the neighborhood. She will now advance the idea of a single source for decision making on trees.

“They’re destroying our trees,” she said. “I’ve shed more than one tear over watching gorgeous trees be butchered like this.”

Copyright 2019 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.