Why the city cuts certain trees down and its commitment to keeping Marshfield a ‘Tree City’
By Chris Meyer
Marshfield has been recognized as a “Tree City” for 34 years. As mayor, I am very proud of that.
The city of Marshfield has an urban forestry plan, and we budget for tree replacement in our budget process each year. As diseases such as Dutch elm disease and emerald ash borer have become threats, we have removed at risk trees and replaced them with disease-resistant variations. We even have a Tree Master Plan that has identified every single tree on city-owned property, including our parks, throughout Marshfield.
This time of year I often hear from residents who are upset that the city is cutting down trees. We tend to develop a bond with the trees in our yards and neighborhoods, and when a tree is removed, it just feels different when you drive down your road. Trees add character and value to our neighborhoods, and we want to preserve them every chance we can.
As we reconstruct a street, we are not just installing a new driving surface. We are repairing and replacing the utilities under the road as well. In many parts of town, such as South Maple Avenue, which is being reconstructed this summer, we have no record of when the utilities were installed.
Since our records go back to the 1920s, we know they are more than 80 years old. The utilities need to be replaced, especially if we are going to build a new multimillion dollar road over the top of them that is designed to last 50-75 years.
Unfortunately, many of the large trees along our roads were planted when the road and utilities were originally installed. In that time they have grown to be large, beautiful trees, but they are now in the way of the reconstruction of the road and especially the underground utilities.
Every tree is evaluated individually to determine if it needs to be removed. Even when we can work around a tree, the damage caused to the root system often leads to disease or death of the tree within a few years.
We include new trees in the budget for each street project. We use an arborist to select the trees that minimize impact on underground and overhead utilities as well as trees that are resistant to disease and grow in such a way that they do not become visual obstructions to drivers or become susceptible to damage as they grow. We want the trees we plant to last another 75 years.
We are proud of our community and the beauty trees bring to our streetscapes. That is why we are committed to restoring the trees we remove.