On Friday, May 17, I drove by the Chevron station on Jefferson Boulevard in West Sacramento. For a moment, I did a double take—several mature sycamore trees that stood along the street by the station now seemed to stand out. Something was wrong. I made a U-turn. Five of the six trees had been butchered (in tree talk, topped). My sister, an ISA Certified Arborist had, on her website, a “Wall of Shame” where she posted pictures of mutilated trees, ones that had been butchered by those too ignorant to call a professional. I went into the Chevron to ask who was responsible. I pointed through the window at the ghastly disfigured trees. The man behind the counter shrugged his shoulders offering no help. I proceeded to take photographs, my whole body shaking at what I saw, remembering these beautiful, leafed-out trees that once provided shade from the hot summer sun. An older man in grayish overalls approached me. “You like my work? I see you’re taking pictures,” he said. I about fell over. ”You butchered these trees!” I shouted at him, shaking even harder. He went on to say, I’ve been doing this for twenty years; they grow back nice and full.” I was livid. It got worse as I saw him approach the last tree—this one standing near the front of the station. He got up in his lift and up he went with his chainsaw. Branches rained down as I stood watching cars dodge them as they drove from the station. No cones or ropes indicated “tree work.” I wanted to call for help, but had no idea who to call. This beautiful, symmetrical tree had no choice; it had to stand while its arms were chopped off with a chain saw, as if shearing a shrub. Deeply rooted, it couldn’t run or fight or even cry out. It stood victim to the carelessness and ignorance of the person with the saw and the one who hired him to do it. There were no power lines encroaching; there was no reason to do this—except perhaps to give passers by a clearer view of the highest prices in town at the pumps. I have learned since that I should have called the police department as this was done without a permit and without permission of the City of West Sacramento arborist. It was indeed a crime. I asked him the name of his company and he refused to identify himself. His beat up truck was unmarked. I drove home, shaken, having witnessed a terrible crime.
To quote an article my sister, Vicky Bartish, wrote on Topping Trees:
These negligent and widely used practices will contribute to the steady decline and eventual death of the trees they abuse for a number of reasons. They will rot. Unfriendly organisms invade open cuts made in the wrong places. Trees have the ability to wall off invaders if branches are removed correctly, but not so with improper techniques. Rot can begin from the inside and work outward, often taking years to show evidence of damage. The trees will starve slowly. Each leaf is a little solar collector that makes food. When too many leaves are removed, the trees cannot make up the losses and their health begins to spiral downward. This decline opens them to attack by insects and disease. They become weak-branched hazards. Topping causes thick, twiggy growth making them top heavy and more susceptible to wind damage.
Please help educate the ignorant. Trees are here for everyone to enjoy and can be destroyed in minutes with a chainsaw in the hands of those who haven’t a clue.