Home News Property owners seek to remove one of Burlington’s largest trees

Property owners seek to remove one of Burlington’s largest trees

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Artist Madeleine Murray creates a relief print of the bark of a large eastern cottonwood tree in her garden in Burlington on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. This tree will be logged in July.Photo by Glen Russell / VT Digger

When Madeline Murray was looking for a home in 2020, one particular feature of the home she currently lives in attracted her. Her rental property stated that the property was characterized by the largest tree in Burlington.

When Murray saw the value, the real estate owner saw the responsibility. After years of management and mitigation efforts, Murray’s new landlord and adjacent homeowners had enough. They haven’t financed yet, but plan to get rid of the trees in mid-July.

“Even though I had never seen it, I was really willing to get this apartment for the wood,” Murray said, renting more than she would otherwise. I said I paid. “But it’s definitely like a valuable experience.”

As a resident, Murray said he didn’t feel the urgency to cut down trees, but she recognized the concerns of real estate owners and respected the harsh calls they had to make.

“It’s a beautiful tree and it definitely invited me to the neighborhood, especially the house,” said Casey Roberson, Murray’s landlord, who lives in other units of the house.

“Cut down a tree is not fun,” Roberson said. “I have solar panels installed for my life, but I don’t like logging trees to make room for solar panels. But when it’s necessary and correct for the health of the tree It’s always there. ”

Roberson said he would like to plant a new tree in the area or use the space to install solar panels.

He and his neighbor, PJ McHenry, talked to a tree doctor about possible pruning or cable solutions, but there are clear signs that the tree is declining. When it falls, real estate owners don’t want it to be an accident.

“The tree is on the last foot of that life,” Roberson said. “It may help, but probably (the cable) will break anyway. It’s a cost that doesn’t extend the life of the tree.”

The end of the era

This tree is an eastern cotton wood known to grow very large, but not so long. According to an arborist consulted by a real estate owner, the best days of this cottonwood are behind it.

Due to its soft and perishable trees, its limbs and branches had already fallen, destroying its neighbor’s trucks, breaking huts, damaging fences, and even landing at home. Before McHenry moved to the property, a lightning strike hit a tree and caused permanent damage.

“In the decade we were there, we spent thousands of dollars on pruning,” McHenry said. “There was an ongoing maintenance cost, which is not the reason for the next step, but only the story of this wonderfully large tree on the premises … the answer we got is a good answer. There is none.”

The risk of future property damage is a major concern — trees rise above both houses and the houses behind them.

“The tree will decline and die. City arborist VJ Komai, who was in contact when Roberson moved in, said:

Artist Madeleine Murray creates a relief print of the bark of a large eastern cottonwood tree in her garden in Burlington on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. This tree will be logged in July.Photo by Glen Russell / VT Digger

Safety is also a major concern, according to McHenry. Since 2011, when he moved in, the tree has grown beyond the boundaries of the site. He has two children, 4 and 2 years old, who are worried about the limbs and “human-sized bark” that regularly fall from trees.

“I think we deal with branches bigger than our kids every week,” McHenry said. “It begins to creep into your heart.”

Heidi Corivo, who moved to the neighborhood at the end of March, has a one-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son. The tree is a safe distance from the house, so Corivo isn’t worried about his children, but he realizes that the tree can pose a danger to those in the immediate vicinity.

“I think safety is paramount, especially for children,” said Corivo. “I know the children were killed by the trees that fell on them. We lived in Winooski before this, and that happened there.”

Memorial of memory and art

Michael Wrobel is the real estate manager for Murray’s rented home and once lived in both units of the home. He was also a realtor who sold the place to Casey Roberson last month.

“Through the vines, I’ve always heard that it’s the largest tree in Burlington, the largest tree in Burlington, and has also won some praise over the years,” Wrobel said. Said. “It’s sad to see such an icon (go).”

When he lived there, passers-by sometimes commented on the size of the tree when he saw him on the front deck and dumped trash.

“I’m glad to take them to the backyard and show them the trees, and we just talk about it,” Wrobel said. “It seems to be well known to the locals.”

Still, Wrobel sympathizes with the current owner.

“It’s a neighborhood full of kids, tenants, real estate owners, cars and pets, which means it’s so big and amazing that it’s frankly really scary to some,” he says. I did. “A single natural disaster, or weather event of some sort, can actually affect multiple properties.”

Wrobel appreciated the time with the trees. The tree provided shade for great conversations and barbecues and served as a home for many animals.

“As someone who sells real estate and land and enjoys the outdoors, I certainly have an attachment to it and the beautiful conditions that surround it,” he said. “It was really just a sight. The perimeter of that trunk is really incomprehensible until you stand right next to it.”

Perhaps there is nothing to save from the tree.

“Unfortunately, what really attracts me about this is that it’s not the most valuable wood in existence,” Murray said.

It does not make good firewood and is not particularly valuable as timber. Even with the high value of timber, the size of the trunks and branches can discourage factory work.

So Murray intends to celebrate the tree of life through art, which she hopes will be on display at art shows in the coming months.

“While I live here, I’ve been painting it for about two years,” she said. “But now it seems like a new urgency.”

Artist Madeleine Murray creates a relief print of the bark of a large eastern cottonwood tree in her garden in Burlington on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. This tree will be logged in July.Photo by Glen Russell / VT Digger

Murray makes a series of sketches of the canopy and works with paint rollers on a large piece of raw canvas fabric. She stands on the trunk to capture the unique topographical impression of the bark.

She has ideas for other projects. For example, she can capture a large scale of wood by creating a “huge silicone mold” of bark and filling it with clay to create a partial replica.

Murray said she has always loved trees, especially the bark of this tree.

“Our kitchen windows are basically full of trunks, which is so cool because it feels like a big elephant’s paw or something,” she said. “It’s strange to think it’s gone.”

Initially, Murray planned to go home when the tree fell and recorded the process with photos and videos. But now she finds it too difficult to see.

Is it really the maximum?

Neighbors colloquially and anecdotally call eastern cottonwood the largest tree in Burlington, but there is no solid evidence to support that claim — mostly no one has accurate measurements of trees in all cities. Because I don’t have it.

He said that some of the largest trees that city tree doctor Komai is familiar with on city-managed lands are the ash trees in the Lakeview Cemetery and the oaks in Oak Ridge Park.

The largest oak in Oak Ridge Park is 52 inches in diameter and 60 feet high, while the largest ash in the graveyard is white ash 40 inches wide and 70 feet high in the air. City tree database..

East Howard Street Cottonwood in the Five Sisters district of Burlington’s South End won the city-wide championship Great tree competition The widest, tallest, 129-foot high in 1997, and again the widest at 76 inches in 1999, far surpassing the tallest or widest urban-managed trees in the area mentioned by Komai.

Current estimates are that the perimeter of the tree is 30 feet at the base and 22 feet at chest height, a height that Burlington measures the width of the city-managed tree. Much wider than oak ledge and lake view trees.

Recent estimates indicate that the tree rises about 120 feet above the ground. This is about twice as tall as the largest tree in the urban management area that Komai had in mind. In 1997, the tree was listed in the Awesome Tree contest at a height of 129 feet. This is the highest in the history of the Awesome Tree competition.

The contest was sponsored by Branch Out Burlington, a volunteer group founded in 1996. Margaret Skinner, President of BranchOut Burlington, is a UVM entomologist working in a UVM tree nursery. She said she was planning to inform the rest of Branch Out Burlington about the end of the tree’s life on Howard Street and she wanted to do something to honor the tree. rice field.

The large eastern cottonwood trees in Burlington, seen on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, are scheduled to be logged in July.Photo by Glen Russell / VT Digger

Skinner himself lives on Howard Street.

“When I heard that the tallest tree was down the street from me, I didn’t notice it,” Skinner said. “So I was really happy that it was in my backyard.”

Still, the effort to prove “maximum” was elusive. Great tree competitions only include trees that people have chosen to nominate, and no government statistics on other trees on private land are recorded.

Information about trees managed by the city is often outdated, as the city does not have the bandwidth to measure every tree each year, Komai said.

Nonetheless, by both urban and residential standards, there is no doubt that cottonwood in the eastern part of Howard Street is incredibly large.

Opportunity for a new beginning

The giant tree may be in the rented time, but Komai said last year that the city government planted a dozen or so trees on Howard Street (the street where the large eastern cottonwoods are located).

“We are constantly planting new trees,” Komai said. “Last year we planted 475 trees in the city. We planted 214 trees this spring. They are everywhere.”

The city has run a tree-planting program back to the record, but the pace has picked up in 2019, Komai said. Over 100 new trees come from the local nursery at UVM’s Horticultural Research and Education Center each year.

However, there is nothing comparable to the large cotton wood in the east.

“It’s certainly an icon that everyone in the Five Sisters neighborhood is familiar with,” Wrobel said. “When it’s gone, we’ll certainly notice.”

A drone shot of a cottonwood tree in the big east of Burlington. Courtesy image from Michael Wrobel

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