This is a Silver Maple tree, across the street from WC’s house. It’s likely more than 100-110 years old and more than 100 feet tall. It has homed Eastern Fox Squirrels, a family of Western Screech Owls, countless Eurasian Starlings and American Robins.
It received a death warrant on Tuesday.
Its crimes are (1) being old, (2) being a Silver Maple, a notoriously big branch-shredding species, (3) showing symptoms of disease and (4) shattering the curb on the northerly side of Alturas Street.
It’s a big tree. More than four feet in diameter. This part of Boise enjoys more than 60% urban tree canopy, and this fellow provides a chunk of it. But the damage to the curb is apparent, and Alturas Street is scheduled for re-paving next summer.
“ACHD” is Ada County Highway Department. A famously hard-nosed, cold-blooded outfit. The City of Boise has a Community Forestry Department. Not something a lot of communities can claim. According to Community Forestry, Silver Maples are now prohibited:
Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
This Class III species has weak wood that is prone to extensive decay creating an extreme public hazard. The species may appear viable despite the hazardous condition. Silver maple also have shallow, aggressive roots that are more likely to damage sidewalk and curb than many other allowed species. Species grows quickly to 70+ feet tall and wide. Silver maple is more prone to storm damage than any species growing in Boise.
This tree was grandfathered in. In fact, it’s older than anyone’s grandfather. The sidewalk, built in 1913, was poured around the base of the tree. As you can see from the first photo, the City tried pruning beforehand. But the tree just wouldn’t stop being an elderly, curb-munching Silver Maple. And, so, a death warrant. WC can’t claim to be entirely unhappy about it. The winter storms here come from the northwest; WC’s house is downwind.
The City is very good about not wasting the tree after it is down. Community Forestry has a mulching program. Any salvageable wood will be seasoned and sold as firewood. Sometimes a private lumber mill will buy the wood, but usually it’s not market quality. These trees aren’t cut until they are well past their prime.
Boise has a Community Forest Plan. Something else not every community can claim. The Plan reports there are 32,500 trees on public land, including 20,500 or so in the public right-of-way like this big boy. Even if a tree lives an average 100 years, that still 325 trees a year that get a death warrant.
If WC is in town when the execution happens, photos will be taken.
Boise is the City of Trees. It’s the official motto. This tree was part of that. No more. Requiescat in pace.