Contractors for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) have clear cut along Beach Road and Eastville Avenue as part of shared use path (SUP) construction. The cutting had been a concern of some area property owners, some of whom failed to see its usefulness and anticipated a loss in property value. A number of cedar trees were taken down as part of the clearing work. These slow growing trees are native to the Vineyard.
“The red cedar supports life in deepest midwinter,” Times gardening columnist Abigail Higgins wrote in 2018. “Observers of individual trees may have noticed that some are so heavily laden with berries that they become practically blue in autumn. These are female trees (red cedars, like hollies, are dioecious) and the “berries,” actually cones, make these trees a safe haven for birds and a support for other forms of wildlife. (Male trees have small, brownish, pollen-emitting cones.)
Following an inquiry by The Times, MassDOT said it was properly permitted to take down the trees and will plant more trees than were cut. MassDOT also said it would have been too dicey to try to transplant the cedars and that those trees aren’t a species protected by the commonwealth.
“MassDOT conducted all of the required environmental reviews and obtained all required permits as part of the design process for this project,” MassDOT spokesperson Judith Reardon Riley emailed. “The project includes planting two new trees for every cedar tree removed due to the project. In addition, the project includes additional plantings of small shrubs and other items. The existing trees were not proposed to have been transplanted, as there is not a high success rate when transplanting mature trees. Please note that cedar trees are not a protected species under the MA Endangered Species Act, and therefore did not require consultation with MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program.”
I would like to see some before photos. Chopping down a 50 year old tree in 10 seconds is so sad. And the reaction of some homeowners who feel the loss in terms of lower property values, or their privacy is understandable, especially if it was unnecessary cutting, but I’m more frequently seeing wonderful trees thoughtlessly chainsawed off because someone wanted a spacous lawn or bigger waterview instead. The slow growing cedars can’t easily be replaced. I am glad to hear that the State is willing to mitigate the loss, but hopefully thought will be given to replacing the cedars with some hardy, faster growing trees that do well in our climate and soil condition. I am hopeful that an expert will be involved. Every tree that disappears is a great loss to some nesting bird and other small creature.
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