Letters to the Editor

Tree tragedy

December 28, 2011


To the editor:

It was a beautiful Christmas present to open the Dec. 24 issue of the Journal-World and see Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees” next to Mike Yoder’s photograph of the devastation caused by Westar’s new “proactive” tree policy (see Journal-World, Dec. 21). We thought we were the only ones who were feeling like Lawrence has lost (and will continue to lose) a piece of itself as Westar’s new policy removes hundreds of trees and halves hundreds more.

We are becoming acquainted with vistas of backyards and the glow of streetlights and piercing, outdoor spotlights that the now-gone-forever trees in our yard and in the yards of our neighbors used to conceal. Come summer, we will miss the cool shade, the sound of the leaves in the wind and the songs of the orioles and wrens that used to nest in those trees. We already miss the winter birds that no longer come to our feeders because our backyard has more in common with a Los Angeles parking lot than the nature habitat it used to be. 

Thank you, Mike, for your picture and thank you for the poem. Maybe other people in Lawrence will feel the same way.


wineguy 2 years, 3 months ago

Thank goodness I was home when they came by marking trees. Apparently the old wooden posts holding up my fence and honeysuckle were determined to be "Threats" and now have lovely orange spray paint marking them from the inside of my yard. They also tried to remove metal posts we installed to keep students from bending down our fence as a shortcut. Bright bunch you hired there Westar.


imastinker 2 years, 3 months ago

It could be just me, but the same people that are complaining about rate increases are the ones complaining about trees. You can't have it both ways - line maintenance is the majority of what you pay in your power bill. Trees are agood portion of that expense.

Yet more people that think companies exist for some reason other than to make shareholders money.


Sylvie Rueff 2 years, 3 months ago

I would really like to see more lines go underground. Couldn't some lines find places in the tubes we already have? It would improve on both the vulnerability of the power lines, and the overall appearance of the town. Burying lines is happening in other locales. Why not here? It seems like an idea with a long range payoff - less maintenance, fewer outages, and less destructive to otherwise healthy vegetation.


hujiko 2 years, 3 months ago

Nothing was more tragic than the clear cutting of the Bauer Farms development across from FSHS. All that old growth wiped out/incinerated, and replaced with saplings more apt to die than grow.


blue73harley 2 years, 3 months ago

KISS - don't plant trees under utility lines.

For an example of poor planning, you need to look no farther than the trees that have been planted at The Reserve (student ghetto).


shadowlady 2 years, 3 months ago

A good tree trimmer can trim a tree without butchering it, instead of having the tree look so lopsided or bare. BUT it could be Westar's policy to trim the trees way back, so they don't have to come back out so soon.


Richard Heckler 2 years, 3 months ago

Wright Tree Service is the Wrong Tree Service....

If Westar feels a need to butcher trees on behalf of Westar those trees need to replaced not by the owners.

Let's get real. Trees have been growing in these locations for decades now suddenly they must be topped out and halved to prevent a situation that may never happen. The trees have been left out of balance which in fact may result in the trees falling on homes or blowing over because the trees have been weakened? The stubs may well begin rotting.

Also the impact on property values should be on the table. This pre-emptive strike is absurd!!!

No one goes without power for very long. We were without power for 3 days once yet life went on and we lost no food in the fridge or freezer. Candle light became the order of the day and we found different things to do. Life can and does go on.


beaujackson 2 years, 3 months ago

An ugly tree is probably better than no power.


CWGOKU 2 years, 3 months ago

What do republicans or any other political branch have to do with tree pruning? Nice comment Tange!


tange 2 years, 3 months ago

Now, what would the holidays be, without all the trimmings?


Peter Macfarlane 2 years, 3 months ago

I must admit, it would help if we used a little judgment in where we plant trees. All too frequently we plant trees along or close to property lines and guess what, that's usually where the utilities run their lines.


Jane 2 years, 3 months ago

It's good that the city planted all those trees along bob billings parkway directly under the power lines. In a few years westar can come along and top those trees also. I just wish westar would come cut down my neighbors walnut tree that is all tangled in the lines over my backyard. And YES jafs and all other critics, i have called them, and the owner, numerous times.

I guess it's good for the economy, westar doubled their tree trimming crews just recently, and the tree nurseries and garden centers can sell more trees. So like a lot of things in this 'wonderful' town, win-lose.


OonlyBonly 2 years, 3 months ago

And you and your neighbors will appreciate the fact your now trimmed trees won't be shorting out power lines causing power outages during ice storms.


cowboy 2 years, 3 months ago

these whines brought to you by " The people who don't ever have their trees trimmed".

If you don't like it you are more than welcome to spend the thousands to trim your own property.


Xwards 2 years, 3 months ago

Mr. & Mrs. Brichoux, thank you for your letter. I too, wish the tree company would have been more judicious in trimming back trees. Even though Westar uglified the trees in question, they've never done anything to make their power lines look better. What's missing here is the actual cost of burying powerlines.


Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 3 months ago

Damned if you trim the trees, damned if you don't! A friend of mine lives in Highland, Kansas. In 2007 the whole town lost electricity for about ten days in the freezing cold in the middle of winter.

And guess what? With no electricity, nobody's furnace worked, unless they had a backup generator all ready to go!

So, water pipes were bursting in everyone's house. The Red Cross and FEMA showed up, and the cleanup went on well into the summer.

Clipped from:

Midwest storm leaves 24 dead, nearly 1M powerless

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A thick glaze of ice brought down power lines and cut electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes and business, closed schools and canceled flights Tuesday as a major storm blasted the nation's midsection.

At least 24 deaths had been blamed on the storm system since the waves of sleet and freezing rain started during the weekend.

Glistening, ice-covered roads contributed to many of the deaths. Downed power lines caused dozens of fires in Oklahoma. And then there was the problem of staying warm because officials cautioned that electricity may not be restored for days, if not weeks.

The power outage was the worst ever in Oklahoma, with nearly 600,000 homes and businesses without electricity Tuesday. Nearly 350,000 other customers were affected by outages in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Illinois.

ect, etc,

Officials in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma had declared states of emergency. President Bush declared a federal emergency in Oklahoma on Tuesday, ordering government aid to supplement state and local efforts.

The 24 deaths in the Midwest and 15 in Oklahoma, have been blamed on frozen conditions that sent cars skidding off highways and caused trees and power lines to snap under the weight of ice.

Tulsa and Oklahoma City each had more than 100 reports of fires since the storm began, mostly from tree limbs crashing into live power lines, authorities said.


budman 2 years, 3 months ago

I'm thankful Westar is clearing the trees, I'd rather see some branches trimmed than have the power go out. Back in New Hampshire the power company would be criticized for not doing enough tree trimming, and thirdplanets got it right that you'd only find the opposite in Lawrence.

Think how old the power lines are around this city, I'm sure any damage done by a fallen limb would do more than usual damage to the grid because how old the lines are.


thirdplanet 2 years, 3 months ago

Jesus Christ, only in Lawrence would you find people making a fuss about routine tree trimming.


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