Residents can help protect the endangered trees

"Endangered trees" are the trees within 5 feet of the orange construction fence--on the outside (plus 3 trees inside at the E end).

The City has told us they would take special measures to protect these trees from damage during construction--damage that might cause them to die next summer.  Special measures were written into the contractor's contract--these measures are summarized in a previous article.*

But people who follow public works projects in Madison know things sometimes don't happen as they are supposed to.  Last summer, a settling pond under construction along Old Middleton Rd almost failed during heavy rains.  Terraces for aquatic vegetation along Wingra Creek turned out smaller than designs called for.

So residents along the Greenway will need to watch for activities in the construction area that may harm the trees.

Here's what you can do
  • Identify any "endangered trees" below your property that you want to save.  These are any within 5 feet of the orange fence, or any along the lateral sewer pipe from your house.
  • Make written or photographic notes about any damage (or lack thereof) to your endangered trees before construction begins near the tree.
  • Put a sign (or better, a face) on that tree so workers can see it.  Give it a personality. No paint--nothing permanent, of course.
  • Inspect the tree after every work day.  Report any damage immediately to the City's forrestry representative.  (I'll post name/number when I find out.)  Document the damage with photos yourself, or call me to do it (cell: 692-5467).
  • Include in your inspection any damage to the tree's roots projecting into the construction zone.  Roots inside the work area can be cut, but they are supposed to have clean cuts by the end of the day.
  • Watch for forbidden practices, like gashing trunks or branches, ripping roots out of the ground with heavy equipment, or storing equipment or materials within 5 feet of trees.
  • Try to find out who does the damage--the contractor or MG&E.  Take photos if you can.
  • If rain occurs during the project, take photos of gullies forming during the storm, the muddy runoff going down Midvale, and the damage afterwards.
Construction work is allowed closer than 5 feet to these trees, so they may wind up dead.  But the workers are supposed to exercise care when close to the trees.  So your job--if you think the tree is in danger and the behavior is careless--is to make a case for your views and let officials know.

Keep your conduct friendly and "professional"

We don't want to "harass" City or construction workers.  In reality, City officials cannot monitor everything, so they need our help.  It's fine if the workers see us taking photos--our engagement will help underline the importance of doing this job RIGHT.

The workers and City officials are not our adversaries.  We are all in this together, working for a city that's a better place to live, where plans are followed and projects get done right.  Bring them come coffee or donuts if you can!  It's a hard job!

But like all people who work together in a serious, cooperative way, we need to hold others and ourselves RESPONSIBLE for what happens.

The new tree protection rules look nice on paper, but they are only as good as their enforcement.  I'm afraid that if trees die, MG&E will point fingers at the contractor, and vice versa, and in the end, the City will say they don't really know what happened.  And so no fines will be handed out.   Our job is to document what really happened to the trees.

Neighbors were very concerned during the meetings about the project.  Now it's time to follow through and watch out for those endangered trees!

Remember the Lorax who spoke for the trees.  Your turn to be the Lorax.

*  Thank you, Engineering, for this important detail.

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