Some readers may remember the controversy last year when Wilmington Island trees were sacrificed to make way for a deceleration lane. Why was it necessary to remove the trees? The protection of motorists was cited as the official reason, despite research that discredits tree removal as a safety precaution in urban areas. I was reminded of this type of thinking yesterday when I was informed that rumble strips, which bedevil cyclists and keep them from safely using roads, are a safety enhancement. The message is the same: Our desire to protect motorists from themselves, even when misguided or misinformed, trumps all other concerns.
But back to the trees, it seems they just can’t catch a break. Not only can they be removed if they dare to grow in a place where a wayward motorist might hit them, they may soon be at risk if they have the audacity to block a motorists’ view of a Hardee’s billboard. Adrienn Mendonca of the Savannah Tree Foundation forwarded an e-mail from the Garden Club of Georgia, which sounds the alarm over Senate Bill 164. It would allow outdoor advertisers, who agreed to shorten the height of billboards, to chop down trees that block the new signs. In exchange, the billboard owners would agree to plant some smaller trees and other vegetation. While replacing sky high billboards sounds good, the garden club is saying “not so fast.”
“It is the position of GCG that it is not a fair exchange to cut down tall mature trees and possibly plant much shorter trees (less oxygen producing) or wildflowers or pay a nominal fee. The bill would eliminate many current restrictions that GCG has fought to maintain over the years. By talking about replanting approved trees and wildflower gardens, the sponsors try to make this bill sound like a “beautification” bill, when it fact, the outdoor advertisers are trying to find a way to cut down massive amounts of tall trees on public rights of way.”
Scenic Georgia is similarly concerned about the legislation.