The Spokesman-Review’s Saturday (Feb. 17) article, “Officials ponder protections for ponderosa pines, Spokane’s official tree,” appeared the day after I received an announcement for a proposed 230-unit development of a beautiful, pine-studded parcel near my home on the South Hill. My first thoughts on both these pieces of news was the precarious existence of the ponderosas in our city.
Spokane’s unique character is defined in part by its setting in a ponderosa pine forest. As a residential landscape architect, I find the basalt rock, pine needle duff and rugged ponderosas as beautiful and distinctive as the elegant Craftsman homes from the turn of the century that grace our city.
The significance of the pines goes much deeper however. Our ponderosas today are the culmination of eons of adaptation and survival, essential hospitality to our local insects and birds, and the foundation of plant communities in our area.
I have met homeowners who fail to see the majesty of the ponderosa for the inconvenience of cleaning up needles and cones. Or for exaggerated fears about damage to homes from falling trees. Both of these concerns I was glad to see put in perspective in the article.
Our towering, voiceless companions are in need of advocates who will tell their story and cultivate an appreciation for their place in our gardens, our city and our region.
I think a Heritage Tree program would set Spokane apart as a place that cares about sustainability and regional beauty.
A heritage tree is typically a large, individual tree with unique value, which is considered irreplaceable. The major criteria for heritage tree designation are age, rarity and size, as well as aesthetic, botanical, ecological and historical value.
Heritage tree ordinances can be developed to place limits upon the removal of these trees and preserve the character and ecosystems of a community.
This time of growth and expansion in our city presents a great opportunity to cultivate beauty, care for our environment and protect the inheritance of future generations embodied in our trees.
Barbara E. Safranek
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