Redmond Parks should show that tree cutting is needed for public safety | Letter

Redmond Parks is planning to cut down 31 cottonwood trees in Idylwood Park by early spring. This action is in response to two limbs that fell last summer, resulting in injury to one person.

I fully understand that there is a safety issue here that Parks needs to address, but Parks has not done an adequate job in justifying their decision or engaging park users in making it. These trees provide valuable bald eagle habitat and are a vital part of the park’s character.

The only documentation Parks has to justify their decision is a short “assessment” spreadsheet with very minimal information. From an explanation of this spreadsheet to me by Parks staff, it appears they simply decided to remove any cottonwood tree that was in an area frequented by park users.

These trees have been at Idylwood Park for decades with no previous falling-limb incidents. There are literally thousands of cottonwood trees in parks around the region. Hundreds of people use the Marymoor dog park under the canopy of large cottonwood trees on a typical summer day. Why aren’t they being cut down if cottonwood trees are such a big danger? Did Parks consult with staff from other parks in the area about risk of falling cottonwood limbs? I was told “no.”

Large trees are a major part of our environment in western Washington, and falling trees and limbs from all tree species are an inherent danger of living in our region. A large Douglas fir tree fell on our house about 10 years ago and crushed the roof over our dining room, but I didn’t expect every Douglas fir in the neighborhood to be cut down. Neither should Parks cut nearly all the cottonwood trees in Idylwood because a couple of limbs fell last summer.

If they are going to cut this many trees, Redmond Parks needs to be held accountable by conducting, documenting and making available to the public a thorough analysis that justifies such an action. Public safety is important but we need to keep perspective. We can’t mitigate every risk, and we also need to consider the habitat and aesthetic value these trees provide to our community. I urge you to tell Mayor Marchione and the Redmond City Council to put any tree cutting at Idylwood Park on hold until Parks adequately shows that this scale of tree cutting is necessary for public safety.

David Chapin