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Town's trees are an asset and a liability

Letter to the Editor


If you add the column marked “Appraisal” in the recent tree inventory for the town of Coulee Dam, you will get a total of $3,182,930 for the 680 trees inventoried. This number does not reflect the 300 – 400 trees that are not on the inventory. Regardless of the value of the trees, what does this number mean to the citizens of Coulee Dam?

Can the town use the trees as collateral for a loan to help pay for the new sewer plant? Could the trees be sold? Should the town increase their insurance to cover the loss of a tree? How much is the street tree in the planting strip at the front of your house worth to you?

The dawn redwood tree in Douglas Park (valued at $15,700) is being systematically stripped of its bark by squirrels. If the tree should die, how would the town collect the value of the tree? In 2014, the town spent $75,000 to have the trees under the power lines pruned. In 2016, the town could spend in excess of $100,000 to have just half of the inventoried street trees pruned, and on spraying for aphids in maple trees. Does that mean the town could spend another $100,000 in 2017 to prune the other half of the inventoried street trees and spray more maples? One could only imagine the cost for street tree maintenance in 2018 if all the un-inventoried trees are pruned and sprayed. By 2019, it will be time to prune the trees under the power lines again.

The street trees in Coulee Dam are an asset to the town. The trees provide shade in the summer, help clean the air, help improve the overall living environment for the people. But the street trees are also a liability to the town and the citizens. The street tree roots push up sidewalks, push out curbs, damage lawns and invade sewer lines. The street trees will require an ongoing maintenance program with qualified personnel.

Do not get me wrong, I am not against proper tree maintenance. However, the town has other problems that should be addressed and prioritized along with the street trees. The street trees have been neglected for a long time. Let’s take small steps to correct the street tree problems and correct the other problems that the town faces as well.

Bruce Bartoo

Coulee Dam

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