Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Man-Made Tornado To Come Through Birmingham




Forgive the dramatic title.  But I have a point.  Read on.

In short, approximately 250 trees are slated to be bulldozed in Mountain Brook/Birmingham, Alabama beginning the first week of September.

Ironically, Mountain Brook, Alabama calls itself Tree City USA.  Indeed, the diversity, size, and number of trees in Mountain Brook is impressive. It’s a beautiful sight – in the Fall with the golds and reds, in the Spring with its blossoms, in the Summer with the (God bless it) much-needed shade.  In a way, it’s our pride and joy, right?  If there is one thing Birmingham has, it’s a lovely array of trees.

I’ve learned, however, that when there is an abundance of something, humans have a tendency to take it for granted.  We’ve all heard the old adage, “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”

So you would think that when over 200 trees are to be cut down in the heart of Mountain Brook that there would be some fuss about it, right?

You’d think.  But let me ask: is the first time you are hearing about this? 

It is?  Don’t worry.  You aren’t the only one.  I attended a Tree Commission meeting for the City of Mountain Brook.  There were approximately eight people in attendance, all members except myself and another fellow.  And even some of those attendees – members of the Tree Commission, mind you! – did not realize that this many trees were to be cut down.

So, let me re-phrase.  You have heard of it.  It’s the Lane Parke development.  What you see in the photos are apartments that have been around a long, long time.  You know them.   The apartments where either you lived, your best friend lived, your parents lived, or your brother lived?  Everyone knows someone who has lived there it seems.  They are truly part of Birmingham’s history.

Yet, not only will they be demolishing all of these classic, sturdy buildings, but they will also be tearing down every tree you see in sight...and many more.    













Bye-bye a chunk of Mountain Brook’s canopy.  And right in prime locale too.  In fact, the Park Lane Apartments are directly across from the Birmingham Botanical Garden.  So much for Tree City USA.

Why are they doing this, you ask?  There will be stores, an inn, and some new apartments in its place.
Notice the missing tree canopy, and the weak attempt to add a tree into the drawing.  Mind you, there will be many, many cars, and those were left out as well.  Pretty building though.
And parking.  Lots and lots and lots of parking.  (I can hear Joni Mitchell singing right now.)

Not only are approximately 200 trees on the Park Lane property going to be wiped out, but because they think that widening Park Lane Road is a good idea, they will also be taking out some trees that belong to Birmingham’s Botanical Garden that line Park Lane Road.  Property of Birmingham, mind you. 
Trees on the left - Birmingham property -- will be gone to make another lane of traffic.  Is this necessary?
This photo was taken this morning, Wednesday, at approximately 8:30 AM (rush hour).   These trees are surrounding Birmingham's Botanical Garden, and are therefore Birmingham property.  They too will be cut down.  All of them.

Notice the shade in the photo.  NONE of that will be there.  The trees across the street are part of Park Lane.

So why do I care? 

Because I'm a Certified Arborist.  That means I know a lot about trees.  But much much much more than that, it means I CARE about trees.  And the more that I have learned about them over the years, the more impressed I have become. 

I will not go into the benefits of trees here (it’s too long for this particular blog).   But I am asking you to spread the word about these gorgeous, planet-cooling, shade-making, animal-housing, oxygen-producing, air-cleaning, rainwater-capturing amazing trees that benefit Mountain Brook and Birmingham more than we could ever understand.  EVERYONE in this community – from ages eight to 88 -- should know about this development before it happens, and have a chance to speak out if they feel inclined.

After all, the trees are humble.  They aren't going to shout out all the good that they do for the world.  They can't yell for a chainsaw to stop.  They can't debate, whine, plead, cry out, or persuade.

They don't have voices.

But we do.

They can't fight for their lives.

But we can.

After all, we mourned the losses of the trees in the tornadoes.
Photo Courtesy of al.com

We mourned the losses of the trees at Auburn. 

dying oak at Auburn University -- photo source

I hope we don't have to mourn these too.


please help

WHAT CAN YOU DO?  (I'm working on the best avenues, but to begin....)
1.  Please write or call one or all of the following people on the Tree Commission of Mountain Brook and tell them how you feel.
2.  SPREAD THE WORD -- Share this blog on Facebook.  Comment here.  Email me with your desire to help.  Even if you live outside of Birmingham, we need you!  Change happens in numbers.


18 comments:

Leah A said...

Well said Katie. I agree- this would be a devastating loss to that town.

alabamaanimals said...

Wow!!! I agree with the comment we heard tonight. "There is nothing to separate Birmingham from Montgomery. Montgomery's trees are gone ... So are the ones in my neighborhood in Cahaba Heights!
This needs to be stopped. Great article KR!

jim potts said...

Trees have been coming and going for a very very long time. Just find a good place to go and plant 250 trees where they are not likely going to be bothered. Let's be smart about this. How many trees are destroyed in one day in a forest fire.

jim potts said...

Trees have been coming and going for a very long time; just find a good place to go plant 250 trees and move on. How many trees are destroyed in a forest fire in one day.

Marisa said...

Thanks for sharing this information. Very sad to hear about these trees. I just placed a call to the city arborist: 205-802-3874. We do need to be a voice for those "humble trees". Well said!

Julie M. said...

Well done, Katie. I'd be right there with you if I were in B'ham. Hoping for the best -- have you contacted the developers? sadly, if they're this far into the project, it'll be a tough fight. Hope you get lots of voices.

Katie Feng Shui said...

Hi all, thanks for your comments!

CaleighP said...

Very sad. I remember how upset I was as a child when they were getting ready to destroy the area that is now the Summit. Now there is the Whole Foods area...and more to come in Mtn Brook Village. Of course we aren't using the vacant buildings and parking lots in Irondale....
very sad....many have been fighting this new building plan in MB for years

thussian said...

Man-made tornado says it all. I hate this. It's like developers have no soul. They only chase the mighty $ and in five years half those stores will be vacant. Good bye tree city ... you will miss that shade next July !!!

Anonymous said...

This developement has gone through years of scrutiny, and the time is finally past and it has been approved multiple times. The developement is also being spearheaded by the the longtime land owner. Do land owners still have some rights over there property.This blog is all drama, from the title on. A true arborist would know that the trees along Park lane Road are sick because they are so close to the pavement of the road already. Most on the apt. property are quite old. Do you remember the 'Straight Line Winds' that took so many trees down no so many years ago in the Botanical Gardens? All is well there and the worst hit area is now becoming the first expansion of the Japanese Garden. We live in a time when everything is so traumatizing. How fragile we are, and yet the world is so old and it got along with out us until now. I agree with the gentleman above. Go out and plant trees. Organize and make a difference in all of the community, not just one neighborhood. And be more honest in your approach. I knew what this was going to be by the title. Sad not to be confident enough to be honest.

alabamaanimals said...

Ha! Why is the guy writing in favor of cutting the trees down anonymous ???? I think THAT says tons. Why don't you write your name and claim your article anonymous? It almost seems as if you are scared.

Stacey said...

Katie-
Thanks so much for your post. This still makes me so sick, on top of the bothersome task of moving. Honey and I have loved being your upstairs neighbors and will miss seeing you!
Stacey

Katherine Cobbs said...

Thanks for shedding light on this issue. I assumed trees would come down for this development, but had no idea of the numbers. Katie, you are like the heroine in the Rob Reiner movie "Flipped" who climbs her favorite sycamore to protest its cutting down. Maybe we can find 200+ folks for a tree sit-in.

geraldparrish said...

This is so sad to hear. I worked in Mt. Brook many years and have loved that area of town since I was 25 years old. The trees are what make Mt. Brook what it is. I think the "anonymous" person is the one who is scared. Be a man/woman...let everyone know who you are. Good luck with your efforts Katie.

Anonymous said...

Do those making comments to just plant 200 trees elsewhere realize how long it takes these trees to grow & get to this size?

MattyP. said...

Anonymous said...WHY NOT IDENTIFY YOURSELF ESPECIALLY WHEN PERSONALLY INSULTING THE BLOGGER AND HER PROFESSION! MAYBE using the name "IDIOT" OR "SCOTT AKIN II, SINCE YOU OBVIOUSLY ARE MAKING DECLARATION OF WHICH YOUR FACTS ARE WRONG!!!
This developement has gone through years of scrutiny, and the time is finally past and it has been approved multiple times. The developement is also being spearheaded by the the longtime land owner. Do land owners still have some rights over there property. AKIN JR. ...OF COURSE LAND OWNERS HAVE "SOME RIGHTS", BUT THEY ALSO HAVE TO ABIDE BY CITY ORDINANCES, GREEN SPACE LAWS, ETC. THOSE LAWS AND ORDINANCES ARE PUT IN PLACE WHEN/IF ENOUGH PEOPLE GATHER TOGETHER THROUGH PETITIONS, PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATIONS AND USING THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO VOTE ON THESE TYPE ISSUES!!
This blog is all drama, from the title on. SHOWING YOUR CUMPTION BY POSTING ANONYMOUSLY.MTAKING A DIG FOR THE PURPOSE OF TAKING A DIG! What grade are you in?

A true arborist would know that the trees along Park lane Road are sick because they are so close to the pavement of the road already. ANYONE QUESTIONING THE BLOGGERS KNOWLEDGE OF HER PROFESSION AND SAYING TREES ARE SICK CAUSE THEY ARE CLOSE TO THE STREET NEEDS THE CREDENTIALS AND THE STATISTICS TO BACKUP YOUR ANONYMOUS STATEMENT! on the apt. property are quite old. OH MY GODNESS, AGEISM ON TREES. AKIN JR. ! WHAT DOES AGE OF TREES HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING? I GUESS YOU ALSO THINK WE NEED TO GET RID OF BEES! DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THE FUNCTION OF PLANTS TO MAINTAIN THE CIRCLE OF LIFE!?!. Do you remember the 'Straight Line Winds' that took so many trees down no so many years ago in the Botanical Gardens? All is well there and the worst hit area is now becoming the first expansion of the Japanese Garden. We live in a time when everything is so traumatizing. How fragile we are, and yet the world is so old and it got along with out us until now. HUH.!?!.....iIT IS SO FRAGILE BECAUSE WE DID EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO MAKE IT THAT WAY! I agree with the gentleman above. Go out and plant trees BUT MAKE SURE U ARENT PLANNING TREE THAT ARE OLD!
Organize and make a difference in all of the community, not just one neighborhood. And be more honest in your approach. I knew what this was going to be by the title. Sad not to be confident enough to be honest. LAUGHABLE WHEN YOU POST ANONYMOUSLY!!! SHOW THE DATA THAT BACKS WHAT YOU HAVE ANONYMOUSLY ALLEDGED...HECK NOT ALLEDGED...YOU MADE IT STATEMENT OF FACT!! SHOW YOUR DATA/PROOF OF WHAT YOU MADE AS FACTUAL STATEMENTS!

Trey said...

Other older, more progressive cities are embracing what sets them apart from the new suburbs...beautiful old buildings, gorgeous old trees, and established landscaping. Seems like Mountain Brook is missing out here. You can't stop progress, but one man's progress is another's regress, I guess. When this place is finished, you won't be able to tell whether you're in Mountain Brook or Calera. Yuck.

steve wallace said...

Very sad. I remember how upset I was as a child when they were getting ready to destroy the area that is now the Summit. Now there is the Whole Foods area...and more to come in Mtn Brook Village. Of course we aren't using the vacant buildings and parking lots in Irondale.... tree service calgary