Tree Tech Consulting    The Knothole  Hop To Forum Categories  Construction & Hazards    Liberty Tree report

Closed Topic Closed
Go
New
Find
Notify
Tools
Liberty Tree report
 Login/Join 
<Russ Carlson>
posted
Permission has been granted by both Maryland Department of General Services and St. John's College in Annapolis to post my report to the net.

The report is in Adobe Acrobat .pdf format, and requires Acrobat Reader 3.0 (available for free download on the Internet) to view. Save the file to your hard disk, then open with Acrobat Reader. This file is made available for those interested in the Liberty Tree. Please note that this is a copyrighted document, and may not be used for any purpose without permission of the author (me).

Russ Carlson
Tree Tech Consulting
treetech@tree-tech.com
 
Report This Post
<Wulkowicz>
posted
Reply to post by Russ Carlson, on October 25, 1999 at 23:24:44:


Thank you for publishing your report.

Although I had written a response initially, I did not send it in as it might have been intemperate in its first consideration.

If I had been the last arborist called in, my report would not have been to kill the tree. As a symbol, and as a creature in a setting where funds can be found to attempt to save it, I find your report a stylish, but inappropriate recanting of the problems of the tree--and sadly without any real evaluation of the range of corrective techniques. A special tree deserves special efforts! This would have been exactly the time and place for a demonstration project.

I will write later in some detail, and I will try to write only with candor. But as the probable final determinant of the fate of this tree, you, or I if had it been the case, will be judged for our words and instructions.

The old friend homily does not mention the ignorance and failures of the various involved professionals and perhaps that series of "fixes" should have a part of the conclusion. A near century of accumulated practices that are still out of touch with trees cannot be ignored and need to be rigorously examined. Certainly, it would have been less poetic; but then again, it would have been a more honest lesson on how we still fail trees.

As someone committed to finding new ways to improve the health and longevity of trees, I am profoundly disappointed. My anger has settled into a sadness about a loss that that may never have been necessary.


Bob W.


P.S. I have been in the business of public safety much longer than the business of trees. My record and contributions have been respected and recognized by many. So, spare me any lectures on that issue.

I would have traveled at my own expense to try to save the tree and never once would there have been any lessening of my obligations to public safety. The tree is (was) savable, and if not this tree, what other one ever would be worth the trouble?
 
Report This Post
<Scott Cullen>
posted
Reply to post by Wulkowicz, on October 25, 1999 at 23:24:44:

Not having inspected the tree myself nor having been invoved in the discussions with the decision makers, I make no comment on Russ's conclusions.

What I do feel quite strongly is that the tree care community generally has overstated its ability to predict failure or estimate the liklihood of failure and may have taken an overly cautious position with regard to tree structure out of fear of liability on the one hand and out of sincere concern for public safety on the other.

Thre are two principal areas for improvement. 1) is the engineering of "mechanics" side. We're not very far along in this and need more and better data and models... for both analysis and for mitigation. 2) is on the public safety or risk management side.

Bob, perhaps you can suggest some accepted literature on risk management and public safety. How do we as a society manage industrial safety, or transportation safety or approval of phamaceuticals or any number of things? This can't be a new exercise... there must be established guidelines and protocols, I wonder if they have been adequately applied to this "hazard" tree business.
 
Report This Post
<Russ Carlson>
posted
Reply to post by Wulkowicz, on October 25, 1999 at 23:24:44:

Bob, I published my report for several reasons, among them to stimulate discussion here among the world's best arborists. I did it knowing full well that in doing so, I exposed myself to the second-guessing and sideline-quarterbacking that are inevitable in cases like this. I expected no less.

I am comfortable with and confident in my fulfillment of the assignment given me, as my client and I agreed. I analyzed the tree for both physiological health and structure, came to conclusions based on my analysis, and made recommendations accordingly. As stated in the report, my job was to analyze the tree, regardless of political implications. Those are the realm of the final decision makers.

Safety, liability and cost are important issues. I can't spend the money for the tree preservation. Nor did the decision makers choose to go that route.

Further discussion of previous maintenance would be pointless. Those who provided treatments that are now known to be counterproductive, did so in the belief that they were right, just as you suggest saving the tree at all costs. I won't condemn those others simply because I have more knowledge and technology at my disposal a century later. What they did, and the results of those treatments have no bearing on the decision made now. The condition of the tree was the real issue, not how it got into that condition.

I am sure there are many people who would allow the sentimental value of the historic nature of this tree to override the practical considerations involved. The facts remain that this tree was failing structurally, that it had lived long beyond the normal life span of the species, much less the Safe Useful Life Expectancy, and that any further efforts at preservation could not prolong the life of the tree substantially.

We can preserve castles and books, churches and paintings, and various enduring parts of the land. We cannot indefinitely preserve living things. It was a great symbol of our heritage. But that doesn't mean we can, or even should try, to keep it forever. Our freedom will not be diminished by the loss of this tree. In fact, I think it will be strengthened by it, since this loss can be used to illustrate the need to protect our environment, to plant more trees. In fact, one of the things at the ceremony not mentioned by the press was that one 6 year old girl wrote the college president, and contributed two dollars of her own money toward saving the tree. They honored her by asking that she, representing our future, place a wreath at the base of a nearby tuliptree- a 110 year old seedling of the Liberty Tree. This is where we should go- looking to the future, not prolonging the past.

The decision on the fate of the tree was carefully considered, and options sought. So I'll ask the same as you did: "My record and contributions have been respected and recognized by many. So, spare me any lectures on that issue."
 
Report This Post
<lewbloch>
posted
Reply to post by Russ Carlson, on October 26, 1999 at 09:46:39:

Excellent response, Russ, babe. I have long considered myself a tree lover, but not a tree hugger. This, too, may offend some of the board readers, but I guess I have offended them before. Not every tree is worthy of being saved nor is every tree, just because it is old, is an assett. Some trees are liabilities. This good ol' tree lived in dignity, and was allowed to go out with love, respect and dignity.
Keep it up, Russ!
Very treely,
Lew
 
Report This Post
<Russ Carlson>
posted
Reply to post by lewbloch, on October 26, 1999 at 22:35:05:

Very simply.....
Thanks, Lew.
 
Report This Post
<Wulkowicz>
posted
Reply to post by lewbloch, on October 26, 1999 at 22:35:05:



It makes no difference to me if I'm labeled a tree lover or a tree hugger. I describe myself as a tree steward for whatever that's worth to any reader. There was often a tag at the end of what I wrote that said, "Trees are my clients, not just the guy with the checkbook." I too didn't care much whether that offended anyone who thought bottom lines were the most important of issues.

When you say, "Not every tree is worthy of being saved nor is every tree, just because it is old, is an asset." Are we taking about the same tree?

Of course, some trees are liabilities. So are some cars, machines, airplanes, and people. To correct them, shall I apply the old SULE lipgloss or some other acronynmic " decision-making fad?

I said I would write with candor and I intended to reread Russ' report a number of times to make sure I understood it in the sense it was delivered.

It is profoundly sad that you should find some claim of dignity in the destruction of that tree--even if the chips went for mementos. Was the dignity in the first chainsaw cut? Or perhaps in each successive cut? Or the final ankle-height adjustment?

I suspect the stump was ground--or did they leave a no-liability stump for people to sit on while they talked about the many things of life?

Just where do we find those elements of dignity that comfort you at the death of this creature, lew? I'm not offended, just puzzled.

The girl offered her money to save the tree. Why didn't we do that?


Bob Wulkowicz
 
Report This Post
<lewbloch>
posted
Reply to post by Wulkowicz, on October 27, 1999 at 17:51:07:

I'm not sure just where you are coming at me from, but sure I'm sad about the tree going to the great arbor in the sky. I was sad when my Mother died and when my Father died, but death is part of life. Perhaps you need some grief counselling, Bob.
By the by, I have seen this great tree, have you, Bob?
verytreelylew
 
Report This Post
<Bob Wulkowicz>
posted
Reply to post by lewbloch, on October 28, 1999 at 23:03:47:



Treelylewly,

Are you pretending to be shallow as humour, or is this the plane you ordinarily operate on?

Bob doesn't need any grief counseling. He could, however, use some protection from low flying lazy platitudes.

Death is not a part of life; it is the whole of death. Life is life; and that ought to be simple enough for most anyone.

Yes, I know that things die, but our discussion here is about how they die, And about how a venerable, 400 year old historic creature, in apparently reasonably good shape physiologically, gets snuffed because we won't look at the herd animal consensus and constipations in our business.

I am so sick of hearing that we prune trees for health. What percentages of decay in the Liberty Tree were attributed to breakage by wind and how much was traceable to indiscriminate, routine pruning by companies or institutions who measure the quality of their work by the amount of wood on the ground?

When do we make the connection?


So you've seen that great tree, have you? Well, a whole bunch of the rest of us never will, and I'm not sure what you mean. If I had seen it, would I sing a different tune? No.

The task was to save the tree because the tree deserved it. If the speechifying at the public execution had any meaning and value at all, the verbiage was exactly the series of reasons to keep the tree alive.

Aren't there connections in that as well for you?


I'd rather spend my time with Russ' report and the other information I can gather instead of getting my buttons pushed. So, I'll talk to you later.


Bob Wulkowicz
 
Report This Post
<Mark Goodwin>
posted
Reply to post by Wulkowicz, on October 27, 1999 at 17:51:07:

I wonder what constitutes the value of a tree as a thing of historic veneration? Is it the very continuing existence of the thing, in whole or in part, alive or dead or in pieces, a site preserved in honor, or documenting photos and words of past witnesses? Is the tree, as symbol of human struggle and ideals, only of value as long as it retains an image of strength and vitality? Can it remain powerful as a symbol even as a sprouting stump or fallen giant?
And what of the tree itself? Where is the place, in our world of youth, for declining and surviving remnants of aged trees? As urban areas intensify and suburbs displace the natural landscape, room for trees of size and age diminishes. Even in forests there is an upper age limit set on trees, dictated by the bottom line of production goals. The last ancient and aged trees are on the brink of destruction. Their scale of time seems at odds with our own.
Getting rid of trees for safety and aesthetic reasons often seems practical. Can we value trees that are in advanced decline, for whatever reasons? Are they really more like lighting poles and sections of pavement, as elements of design and function for us to manipulate? Or are they things which we borrow from the natural and living world for our benefit, that have a value and a purpose that transcends our own? Perhaps this borders on the sentience topic.
I wonder what we have to learn from trees, not just about trees?
 
Report This Post
<Russ Carlson>
posted
Reply to post by Bob Wulkowicz, on October 29, 1999 at 17:47:13:

Since you asked-

"What percentages of decay in the Liberty Tree were attributed to breakage by wind and how much was traceable to indiscriminate, routine pruning by companies or institutions who measure the quality of their work by the amount of wood on the ground?"

The tree was struck by lightning- best estimation is early 1800s, maybe 1820 to 1840. Damage to top over 60 feet high, wounds to trunk at 45 - 50 feet and lower 12 feet of trunk. Top main leader tree broken out at 60 feet, approximately 24 inches diameter. All long before ANY pruning of the canopy. These events were related, IMO, the leader breaking due to decay from the lightning strike. These were the events that caused the extensive decay that was treated in 1907. While there are no other records of early treatments, and there may have been some, the lightning strike(s?) were the primary cause of the structural defects.
 
Report This Post
<lewbloch>
posted
Reply to post by Wulkowicz, on October 27, 1999 at 17:51:07:

There were 4 (or was it six) respected arborists who all inspected this tree and came up with the same opinion. There is one respected arborist who did not see the tree and states the others were all wrong.
I think we have runover too much on this subject.
Lew
 
Report This Post
<Stephen Wiley>
posted
Reply to post by Wulkowicz, on October 27, 1999 at 17:51:07:

Bob, your ending statement to the previous post

"Why didn't we do that?"

In all of the responses you have sent I admire your stance on the issue of continuing to preserve the remaining portion of this particular Tree!

However, I am equally impressed with Russ and the other arborists given the task of addressing the risk of failure, safety, and recommendations.

Again, I am not privy to the hiring info given these arborists. Yet as an Arborist, I do believe they fufilled their obligations and most likely offered their own recommendations for preservation.

However, from what I have read they were NOT hired to preserve this tree.

In short Bob "we" were NEVER asked ( I do not know if Russ and the others involved were). The decision was not the participating arborists responsibility to make.

In all likelihood I seriously doubt that they (those responsible for the final decision) would spend the time or money to contact arborists throughout the country. And in all fairness, if they were to ask me here on the west coast, I would respond with the following question: "have you asked the loacal qualified arborists to preserve the tree?".

Thus, maybe the question you intended (since it will not be heard by the decision makers)is: "What can we as a national or international organization of Arborists do to contribute a higher preservation standard for Significant, Historical Trees?".

Sincerely,

Steve
 
Report This Post
  Powered by Social Strata  

Closed Topic Closed

Tree Tech Consulting    The Knothole  Hop To Forum Categories  Construction & Hazards    Liberty Tree report

© 1997-2003 Tree Tech Consulting. All messages are the property of the original author.