Trees to go: City says about 1,000 along the James need removingAbout a thousand dead or flood-damaged trees need to be removed along the banks of the James River within Jamestown city limits, primarily for safety and environmental reasons, an official says.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
About a thousand dead or flood-damaged trees need to be removed along the banks of the James River within Jamestown city limits, primarily for safety and environmental reasons, an official says.
“The earliest we would actually see this start is July,” said Reed Schwartzkopf, city engineer, though it will likely be later.
The city’s plan to remove the impacted trees will likely take three to four years to implement.
An estimated 5,000 trees of a 6-inch or more diameter line the James from the Jamestown Reservoir in the north to the southernmost city limits.
Only about 15 to 20 percent of the 1,000 trees that need to be removed are on public property, but the city is charged with flood plain management.
Trees help prevent erosion, reduce runoff and, more critically, can become a hazard if they fall in the river and get hung up on a bridge, Schwartzkopf said.
If a tree gets caught on a bridge, it causes stress to the bridge, which can become a problem over time, and causes water to back up upstream, which may cause flooding.
“It’s got to be taken care of and it will be taken care of, but if you can’t wait, take care of it yourself,” he advised property owners. “We have a multitude of priorities and it will be at the direction of the (city) council — only at their direction — that we proceed with this.”
The cost of removing the 1,000 trees, or even that of only removing the 200 to 300 trees that have already fallen, is unknown, partly because some of them will be difficult to reach, and others will pose relatively few problems, Schwartzkopf said.
The city hopes to get state or federal grant dollars to help defray the cost of tree removal, so it doesn’t all end up being charged to property owners.
Because so many of the trees are on private property, the city will hold public meetings, if it doesn’t have public hearings, to discuss the issue with owners before any actions are taken, Schwartzkopf said.
The city would prefer to leave the trees’ root balls in the ground to help stabilize the riverbanks. Removing some of the trees and undergrowth would also result in a more groomed look for the woods along the river, though it would still be a forest. Tree removal will be selective, and no clear-cutting will be done.
“If you thin out the trees a little, it’ll be like you see in the healthiest forests,” Schwartzkopf said. “I want to clean up and manage that river environment so it’s better for everyone.”
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org