LETTER: Watertown Tree Group Opposes Removal of Trees Along Path

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The existence of substantial shade trees on Cambridge property along Watertown’s Linear Park may not have been planned, but the positive environmental and community contributions of these trees to Watertown are very real and quantifiable.  Using the USDA Forest Service’s program i-Tree, a large healthy urban tree is typically assessed at many thousands of dollars in cumulative services and benefits.

Regarding Cambridge’s asserted necessity to take these trees down, we must question how likely it is that shade tree species which typically have a maximum root depth of 18 inches can damage a water main that is reportedly as many as 8-10 feet underground.

Cambridge is undertaking takedown of these trees, and official Watertown is acquiescing, with no public acknowlegement of the extent of negative impact this large-scale degradation of green infrastructure will have in the heart of Watertown:  damage to wildlife corridor, elimination of cooling summer shade for neighboring homes, the loss of natural interest and calming beauty which these tall trees have provided for pedestrians taking this quiet path through the congested center of Watertown.

On the Cambridge City Arborist website as well as on Cambridge streets, we see evidence that Cambridge increasingly recognizes and invests in the valuable infrastructural role urban trees play in managing stormwater and in cooling urban hardscape in summer, as well as in providing beauty and a restorative connection with nature for its citizens – within its own city borders. Does Cambridge equally recognize the value of preserving shade trees on their property in Watertown?

Preserving and increasing the population of large-canopy urban shade trees is important to ensuring the health and well-being of cities like Watertown and Cambridge.  Watertown citizens want to know:  what is the evidence that these trees within Watertown’s borders are a real risk to Cambridge’s water conduit?  We ask Cambridge to provide evidence to the citizens of Watertown that each of these take-downs is truly necessary, before removing beneficial community shade trees along Watertown’s Linear Park.


Libby Shaw

President, Trees for Watertown

6 thoughts on “LETTER: Watertown Tree Group Opposes Removal of Trees Along Path

  1. I agree one hundred percent with Ms. Shaw. If our town government cannot mitigate this situation then it has failed Watertown’s citizens. It seems as if this arboreal massacre has been plotted with little resistance and little notice to the public who might object.

    Each tree should be evaluated for its potential to damage the pipe before removal. Any trees that are removed must be replaced by the most mature tree feasible in a safer location. Why are our town councillors and employees not protecting the best interests of the citizens of Watertown? A regrettable situation to be sure.

  2. The tree cutting was presented as a fait accompli. The city administration should explain their rationale for permitting this, if they have, without question or compromise.
    Sheppard Ferguson

  3. Complete silence from the Town Government. Charlie, can you please solicit comment from the Tree Warden and the Town Manager? This demands explanation.

  4. I cannot accept that the Town could not negotiate with Cambridge and obtain a better result for our citizens. What I believe is that there was no will to make an effort on the part of the Town.

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