Thursday, April 11, 2013

Perfect Timing

After spending more than two hours yesterday hauling broken limbs from my neighbors' trees out of my back yard, off of my fence, off of my cable line, off of my roof and out of my gutters, I got back in the house and checked my email on my smartphone.  Within the 120 or so that I rack up every couple of hours was one from the DNR touting the cost benefits of trees in the Oshkosh area.

Per the DNR, urban trees provide us with more than $335-thousand savings annually in cooling and heating costs, stormwater management, additional property value and improved air quality.  It got me to thinking, how much had trees just cost us IN ONE DAY in storm damage?  How much did WPS spend on manpower, equipment costs and repairs while dealing with power lines that were pulled down or severed by falling tree limbs?  The same goes for Time Warner Cable.  How much will homeowners and insurance companies be shelling out to pay for damages to roofs, eaves, siding, windows and even some vehicles struck by ice-covered branches?  How much is the city spending to clear downed trees from streets?  And how much will be spent on branch pickup and chipping over the next few weeks?

And this was just a single storm.  You know we have at least a couple more of these heading our way in June and August that will make the city look like one of those hillsides in "Ax Men".  Oh, and don't forget about what the city spends to collect leafs along the curb for a couple of months in the fall.

I'm not saying "Cut down all the trees!"  I'm not an anti-tree guy (although I did celebrate silently after learning that a number of big trees were being removed from Reid Golf Course in Appleton as part of the stormwater retention project on the site--fewer punchout shots will be required after wayward drives from now on).  But a cost-benefit press release should probably take into account the expenses incurred by property owners and municipalities as well.

And sending it out on a day when the very trees that you are touting have done so much damage to the very city you are promoting probably isn't the best timing.  There will be plenty of sunny, ice-free days to tell us how great our trees are.

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