There has been a lot of talk around the city lately about the tree removal that is taking place as part of the reconstruction project. If you were to listen to the rumors, some would have you believe that there will be no trees left on the Pike when the project completes, but as is often the case, reality is quite different.

There are currently 269 trees along the nearly two miles that Springfield Pike runs through the City. While it is true that 37 of those trees have been tagged for removal, What’s Up Wyoming learned that removal of trees along the Pike over the past three to five years has been deferred until now. The city didn’t want to plant trees only to lose them. Rather than being removed and replaced at the time, replacement of these trees will be held until after the reconstruction project completes, and will ultimately contribute to their long-term health. Given that the city removes about 10.75 trees per year on average, about 43 trees would have been removed along Springfield Pike from 2015 to 2019 – more than are being removed by the reconstruction project.

Considered, deliberate culling and replacement enhances forest health. That’s the word from Wyoming’s Urban Forestry and Commission. Trees in the city’s care are evaluated annually and those in decline, dead or at the end of normal service life are removed. Replacements are selected that are suited to the site and the stress of growing streetside. This not only enhances the overall health of Wyoming’s tree population, but also contributes to the safety of our residents, as deadfall from trees is not landing in the street or (hopefully not!) landing on someone’s head. A number of the trees being removed along the Pike are Callery Pear trees, which are invasive ecologically and develop branch structure that is prone to catastrophic breakage.

“Safety must be our first priority,” said .

Most of the trees that are being removed will be replaced at the conclusion of the project. As trees are removed, the city arborist will typically consult with Wyoming’s citizen-volunteer Street Tree Sub-Committee of the Urban Forestry and Beautification Commission to determine the optimum placement and type of tree with a goal of achieving maximum canopy cover and ecosystem services under the modern urban constraints.

Just some of the factors evaluated when choosing new trees include sidewalk placement, the size of the planting area, infrastructure that may affect the root zone, existing utility lines, soil moisture and more. Replanting typically takes place in the spring following the removal of a tree, but because of the extended timeline of the project, it is likely that some trees may not be replaced until 2020. This is ultimately for the best. Replanting too early risks damage that could potentially slow the growth of the tree and contribute to its “failure to establish”.

Trees are a valued asset in the city, and none are removed carelessly. The amount of talk lately about the tree removal demonstrates just how much Wyoming residents care. Wyoming has been recognized annually by the Foundation as a Tree City USA for 24 years. “Wyoming plants over a hundred trees per year,” Tetley told What’s Up Wyoming. “I don’t know of many communities that are as dedicated to maintaining the urban tree canopy.”