To the editor:
In Lawrence, recently recognized once again as a "Tree City USA," it turns out that any Tom, Dick or Harry can cut trees at will, slash and burn, and get away with it. I refer of course to the most recent sign of arrogant disrespect, the cutting of many large cottonwoods and elms near the sewage treatment plant.
This is only the latest outrage against the landscape, similar to the county's version last fall, when Washington Creek near Lone Star was denuded of every sizable tree. In both cases it is neighbors, creeks, wildlife and floodplain be damned!! In fact, new owner Mike Polk summarized the problem by saying "I can do anything I want with the trees." If he's right, and city officials seemed unable to find the gumption to disagree, it's a sad state of affairs. Can't we just acknowledge that trees are good for the city, good for the county and good for the planet and figure out how to save them.
A good start would be to do what other communities have done: ban cutting of trees unless a permit is issued, based on a good reason to remove the tree. This could easily be done by the city forester as part of a site plan review. And there should be serious penalties attached for violations such as replacing with similar-sized trees, planting trees elsewhere in town, or maybe even a little time in a treeless cell.