CH mixes messages on tree canopy

To the Editor:

Reading recently of Shaker Heights’ application for a Cuyahoga County Healthy Urban Tree Canopy grant, to plant nearly 150 trees in their community, I'm reminded that Cleveland Heights received the same grant in 2019. At that time, we received a $50,000 grant for an ash tree mitigation program. The plan was to replace about 150 mature ash trees affected by the emerald ash borer.

It’s becoming increasingly evident that the tree canopy is shrinking across our region. In 2011, Cuyahoga County’s tree canopy stood at 37%. Six years later, in 2017, it fell to 35%. In Cleveland Heights, a "Tree City USA" community since 1977, our canopy sits only slightly above the average, at 38% and falling, compared to, say, Chagrin Falls Township, at 70%. Yet, so proud are we that we even have a tree growing out of the "ch" in our logo!

Grants aside, look at what's happening to our area in real time. Last May, at the onset of construction for the four-acre Top of the Hill project, all but four mature trees were cut down. Twin 10-story concrete towers now stand in place of dozens of mature trees. If this weren’t enough, in late February work began across from that project, on Euclid Heights Boulevard, on construction of a boarding house aimed at more housing for graduate students. Sure enough, the sound of buzz saws and stump grinders filled the air, and now another one-fifth of an acre at the top of the hill is rendered nearly barren of trees. 

If we aren't careful, Cleveland Heights could more and more resemble a bland, nameless suburb. There are sociological, architectural and environmental reasons why many of us choose to call this place home.  And none of them has to do with the strip-mined appearance of recent "development."

Don King

Don King
Cleveland Heights

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Volume 14, Issue 4, Posted 9:56 AM, 04.01.2021