In New Jersey, a (Rational) Fear of Trees

Residents Consider Cutting Trees Before They Fall

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Between Sandy and the wettest June on record, New Jersey's mature trees are falling down more frequently, making residents nervous. Some are even eyeing healthy trees, singling them out to be cut.

"Not everybody loves trees," said Thomas Doty, Forester for Millburn Township, New Jersey.  Especially since trees were part of the reason 346,000 homes were damaged during Sandy, according to the state.  Doty said requests for tree removal in Millburn and Short Hills are up 20 percent this year over last.


As more trees fall, the remaining ones can become more vulnerable.

"Tree root systems are connected," said Doty. When one tree falls, it can upset the root systems of nearby trees that then become weakened and might also have to be removed.



A 20,000 pound limb fell on Patti Whelan's house in Maplewood, NJ during a storm last month.  The 8-story tall tree had to be removed, and she expects to be out of her home for six months while repairs are completed to the walls and chimney.



"[The tree] always made me anxious because of the size of it and how close the houses are here," said Whelan.  But she was torn. "The tree was magnificent, and everyone in the neighborhood recognized the beauty of the tree," she added.

Experts recommend residents hire an arborist to assess a tree's root system and branches when deciding whether to keep or cut a neighborhood tree.



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Comments [1]

Susan Bazel from New Yirk

I'm sorry Janet but it's not a "rational " fear of trees. The media frenzy for sensationalism , especially reporting on falling trees feeds these fears leading to more clear cutting of big trees leading to more loss of CO2 sinks, leading to more climate change leading to bigger storms leading to more trees down. Loss of forests is the number two contributor to climate change after greenhouse gases. Does the media ever report on this? Using the same logic about damages/ loss of life as a rationale for treephobia we would surely ban cars which contribute to fatal accidents much more commonly. The sadder reality is that the media sells their wares by drumming up fear and many respond by blindly chopping. These same "rational " people complain when their energy use goes up to cool their unshaded ,baking houses and even more CO2 goes into the enviorment contributing more to what they fear in the first place.

Aug. 09 2013 11:00 PM

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