Saturday essay: The butchering

| Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, 9:18 p.m.

The ash tree in front of the house clearly has been in distress this year. Davey Tree most assuredly has guaranteed there will not be a next.

Leaves have been sparse since the first buds of spring on this “street tree,” a fixture for well more than a decade. Unfortunately, it was the first sign of the emerald ash borer that's making its rounds. Not long ago, Mt. Lebanon treated the tree in hopes of saving it and scores just like it.

But the treatment doesn't appear to have done much; the ash continued to struggle all summer long.

Then, last week, Davey Tree, contracted by Duquesne Light to clear branches from its lines, arrived on the scene. Not only was it the exact wrong time of the year to prune an ash — the right time would be in late winter when the tree still is dormant — the “clearing” was a butchering nonpareil.

The ash looks like a bomb hit it. And some of the cuts — resembling horizontal “topping,” one of the worst practices in tree trimming — will only invite more disease. If this tree had any chance of survival before its evisceration, it has little to none after.

Just as bad, several good-sized cut branches were left dangling dangerously above the sidewalk.

Indeed, everyone understands the need to keep power lines free of branches. But what happened to this ash and what's been happening to so many trees along Duquesne Light's power lines everywhere at the hands of Davey Tree butchers is an obscenity.

— Colin McNickle

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