By Leigh Pickering
I’d like to share a story to remind Master Naturalists how important it is to advocate for trees in our neighborhoods.
Recently, a builder began to construct a new home on a lot across the street from the Walter Reed Firehouse. On the corner is a huge (for the species) mature Virginia Pine.
I watched this project and one day I saw pink tape around the tree. Fearing the worst, I took my tree ID book and a clipboard (for show) over to the site and asked to speak the the boss on the site. I was pointed to the builder who happened to be building the house for himself.
I introduced myself as one of his future neighbors and said I noticed that he had taped the tree. He said that he was thinking about cutting it, because he felt it was “scraggly” and uneven and had decided to take it down. I told him that it was a Virginia Pine and that it was actually huge and well-formed for its species. He seemed to appreciate having a name for the tree. I suggested one branch to shorten to make it more even.I explained to my neighbor that the Virginia Pine had a lot of food and cover value for birds. He said he hadn’t seen many birds and I suggested it might be that they didn’t like the heavy equipment. I mentioned that it gave him visual and noise screening from the busy street and that it would be hard to replace those attributes with another tree in any reasonable timeline. I added that his tree was unique and now that he knew what it was, he would not find many as large and well formed in the area. I said that I hoped he would think about it and I thanked him very much for just taking the time to hear me out and for being receptive.
The following week the tape came down!! It’s only one of many hundreds of trees marked for death every year in Arlington, but I was so happy to help to save even one champion beauty.