"No tree," regardless how "great, grand, or old, is worth one human life."

COLUMBIA, Mo 1/14/14 (Letter) -- A dead tree that came "crashing down with a frightening sound" was one of several reasons Aaron Smith says he took down trees on his property at 802 W. Stewart, many of which he plans to replace this spring.   

"I'm glad there were no children near it when it fell," he wrote.  "This was a huge tree."  

Mr. Smith commented on an editorial in this publication about how the felled trees related to our mission statement. 
But the Facebook widget that records comments doesn't show them on some mobile devices and browsers, so his response is reprinted here.   Readers have noted that it is poignant, sensible, and complete, while expressing frustration that they couldn't always access it.   Smith was not identified in the article. 

The fallen tree, Smith noted, was especially alarming because "my father was killed when I was 12 years old when a tree fell on him.   I still have nightmares about it 26 years later."

Fearing other trees were poised to fall, "I had an arborist come out and take a look at the trees on my property," Smith explained.  "Most of the trees in the front yard were over 100 years old and some were already dead.   The arborist told me that trees, like all living things, have a lifespan and that the average lifespan of trees in Missouri like these is 100 to 120 years old

"His inspection of the trees revealed that several of them were already dying, had disease, or had been struck by lightning.   Apparently the drought from this past year was the 'nail in the coffin' for most of them, so to speak.  

"Some of the old trees were in range of falling on my house.  Others were in range of falling onto the sidewalk and street.   So, at that point, the arborist suggested to me that it would be a good time to start over instead of waiting for the trees to die and fall over.

"Since we were taking out the old dead, dying, and diseased trees in the front anyway, I decided to relocate the driveway to the center of the house.  Soon, there will be a black ornamental fence along the street, new brick posts, and black ornamental automatic swing gates.  The yard is also going to be irrigated and we plan on planting many beautiful trees that are well into maturity

"In other words, no sprouts.

"But all of this will take some time and I wanted to do it over winter because everything is so ugly anyway (the weather lately has made this a choppy process).   I am hoping to get everything done by early spring so that when everything starts to green up, the yard and new plantings will be well under way.

"I was a little disturbed by the article that I read.   No one took the time to ask me why the trees were being removed.  I would have gladly told them.  I was also a little disturbed by the comments that people made about my property.

"While I think trees are great to look at and sometimes climb, I think they can also pose a danger to human life.  As property owners, we owe ourselves and other fellow humans a duty to make sure our property is safe.

"I expect to have children soon someday and I certainly would love for them to enjoy a safe yard.  I would also hate for a passerby to be crushed by a falling old dead tree that I didn't take care of.

"Dead, dying, diseased, and misplaced trees all present dangers to humans.   No tree, I don't care how great, grand, or old, is worth one human life."