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Editorial: Crape scolding

Posted: March 3, 2015 9:26 a.m.
Updated: March 4, 2015 1:00 a.m.

One thing which makes Camden so appealing is its attention to and love for trees. The city is graced with thousands of them, and they add immeasurably to the atmosphere of our municipality. The Camden Tree Foundation and its many volunteers work tirelessly to plant new trees and keep existing ones healthy, and the city of Camden has had the foresight to hire a professional to oversee the arboreal health of the area. But a recent newspaper column by the town’s urban forester, Liz Gilland, was a bit troubling in its tone.

Ms. Gilland’s column in this paper, which addressed the pruning of crape myrtles, might have been well-intentioned, but it came across as both condescending and overbearing. Arboreally, she certainly knows her stuff.  But using terms like “monkey-see, monkey-do” was over the top. And her summation -- “ignorance of the law is no excuse, so I will be watching!” --  certainly could have been couched in more reasonable terms rather than seeming, as it did, reminiscent of an old-time schoolmarm determined to rap a small child’s knuckles.  Further, Ms. Gilland has sometimes demonstrated, in her personal dealings with people who have inadvertently violated regulations, the same kind of stern manner that she expressed in the column.

This newspaper has provided space for Ms. Gilland’s columns on a regular basis, and we are happy to do so. We applaud what she and the city are trying to accomplish, and we share with her a concern and a desire for people to understand the town’s tree statutes and abide by them. Improper pruning of trees is indeed an issue. But we don’t think most people are intentionally butchering trees, and we think there is still a sizeable -- perhaps huge -- percentage of the population who do not fully understand details of the hands-off zones and the tree ordinance. Violations sometimes occur because trees are interfering with power lines, thus creating hazards, and concerned residents are -- with no improper motive whatsoever -- cutting them back.

Planting trees is wonderful; so is preserving them. The Chronicle-Independent will gladly continue to provide space for Ms. Gilland to address issues. But she and the city would do well to avoid a heavy-handed approach towards the town’s taxpayers. Nobody, after all, likes a scold.

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