Tree Obituaries

Published 08/18 2014 05:34PM

Updated 08/18 2014 07:21PM

Every year the city of Terre Haute has to remove dozens of trees. It can be because of any number of reasons, from tree health to public hazard. But the city has also taken an interesting approach, to raise public awareness about the benefits of the trees.

Big trees on narrow streets can be a source of problems and sometimes, they are necessary to remove. But the trees that are being removed in Terre Haute do get one last show of appreciation before they come down.

Tree obituaries. That's what's being posted on trees that are going to be removed. It's just a sheet of paper stapled to the tree. But sometimes a piece of paper is all it takes to raise awareness. When trees come down, it's usually when a resident calls with concerns. Safety is a big one.

"The sidewalk is raised in several sections, highest probably being about four inches. And we've actually had one person walking their dog, going down the street that has tripped," said Ken Wooden, a resident of Terre Haute.

Wooden is a home owner whose tree has an obituary stapled to it. And while he knows it's best for safety reasons, that doesn't mean he's happy to see it go. As the obituaries point out, each tree gives benefits including, money saved on energy, higher property value, money saved catching storm water and improving air quality.

"I'd love to keep the tree. It's beautiful. When it blooms, it's just gorgeous," said Wooden.

That's why he's going to replace the tree once it's taken down. But this time, he'll plant the replacement where it has a better chance to live.

"We encourage people to plant then on the frontside of the property because it'll provide the same canopy cover, you know, the tree lined streets people want," explained Terre Haute Urban Forester Sheryle Dell.

Dell is in charge of deciding which trees come down. She also posts the obituaries. She says Ken is part of the minority. Only about 10% of those who have a tree removed get it replaced.

"A lot of times the trees will cause problems in one way or another and people just think 'I'm glad it's gone.' And my hope is that eventually they'll say 'Oh, you know it was really nice to have that tree there," said Dell.

Homeowners who have a concern about their tree can call 311. Anyone who is interested in replacing or planting a tree can also call that number.

The city only removes trees that are considered a public hazard. That might mean that there are dangerous limbs, that it is in the way of necessary construction, or that the trees are diseased. Otherwise, the tree removal falls to the homeowners.

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.