Tree Huggers

 by David Benoit

Let me be clear: the only reason I haven’t left this sprawling city of ours is… ready for it?The trees! Yes, I love the trees and the romance they provide for my meaningless life. Gazing upon the horizon of the cityscape in the early mornings, with a view blocked by the swaying branches of autumn foliage brings a certain shudder to my body that reminds me of a JFK speech where “we all breathe the same air…” but with the visualization of the intro to a Twin Peaks episode. One thing I am proud of that our mediocre City provides is arguably the strongest tree protection ordinance in the country, and it’s getting a face-lift.

I believe it was the omnipotent landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted that transcended the confines of the urban environment by bringing the rolling hills and pastures of North Georgia to Druid Hills. With a grand vision, and a magnificent sense of irony, decimated a forested plot of land in Atlanta and formed the masterpiece of what is now known as Piedmont Park. We love the man for the oases he has given us here in Atlanta and throughout the United States. I only wonder if the world was ever as hot then as it is now, aside from the mini ice age of his time.

Thinking back, the single hottest parking lot in the City of Atlanta has got to be the Edgewood Retail district in August. But no more! Well, at least not for other parking lots. The new tree ordinance will update the requirements for parking lot plantings. What does this do, you ask? Well, it assists the reduction of the heat island effect in the middle of cities. If you don’t know what this is, perhaps next summer you should fly to New York City on July 31st and sit on the southeast corner of 57th and 7th for a few hours, then head two blocks north to Central Park. You’ll feel, literally feel, what I’m talking about. I felt it. I even felt it here in Atlanta. Back in oh-nine I walked through the Georgia heat from the Midtown MARTA Station to Piedmont Park and upon entering the mountain oasis in the city I got high. I wasn’t high from the carbon monoxide that breaks like the wind from the tail pipes of our city’s addiction. I was high from the sudden increase in oxygen. It affected me; like the first time.

Aside from the orgasmic brain activity due to the overwhelming increase of one of the most abundant elements on earth, you now know that which gives me joy. But do you know that which brings me pain? Three words: Mountain Pine Beetle. Actually, three more words too: Asian Long-horned Beetles. As I refer to them collectively as The Beatles and they are epidemics that are devouring the trees throughout the Rockies in Colorado and in Central Park New York City. Have you been to Colorado lately? It’s decimated. The City of Atlanta’s ordinance would require species diversity for developers to plant as replacement trees. This would assist as a stop gap for any would be epidemics that may fall upon my sole reason for living in this town.

As a whole, the new and improved tree law would help the City with a much-needed management of storm water runoff reduction during those rainy days. The law would help all the birdies have homes. Mind you, 75% of the little birdies in Europe are about to go ca-put due to climate change and deforestation in the Old World. And, at the end of the day, more trees means improved quality of life for us fellowATLiens and a strengthened economic base that will forever increase property values in this town.

After all, imagine living here.


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