Resort town halts tree cutting after developer girdles spruces
KETCHUM, Idaho – A developer’s girdling of three large Englemann spruce trees to kill them just ahead of a citywide moratorium on such activity has angered officials in this central Idaho resort area.”I want to address the outrageous behavior of an out-of-town developer who came into our house and defecated in our living room,” Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall said in a statement.He called the girdling of the trees Wednesday by LBJ Partners of Seattle “blatant disregard for our community values.”The girdling of the large trees happened the same week Ketchum was given the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA award in recognition of the trees within its borders.LBJ partner Jeff Lilly said that after learning of the city’s plan to enact the moratorium the company girded the trees, cutting through the bark around the tree. The trees are on property the company bought last winter in downtown Ketchum.”It really was unfortunate,” Lilly said. “It’s certainly not our intention to just remove trees. But the city, the way it was administering its policies, has put us in a position to act to preserve our rights.”On Thursday, the Ketchum City Council enacted the moratorium on the “injury or removal” of trees greater than 14 inches in diameter.Several Ketchum residents tried to protect the trees but were ordered off the property. Lara Babalis tried to prevent a laborer with a chain saw from cutting the trees but then left.”The natural landscape of the city of Ketchum is an important and vital natural resource and the true skyline of our town,” Babalis said. “We need to protect it. I don’t think we owe development a profit at the expense of our quality of life.”The three City Council members voted unanimously for the moratorium.”It’s a horrible thing done by somebody who doesn’t live here,” said Councilman Steven Shafran. “It’s terribly disrespectful of everyone who lives in Ketchum. I can’t understand why this person wants to do business in this town.”Councilwoman Terry Tracy said the killing of the trees was carried out in an “insensitive manner.””We would have negotiated with him,” she said. “This individual appears to represent a very low end in the food chain.”The fast-growing region had a similar incident last week when old trees were cut in the town of Hailey, about 15 miles south. That city also passed a ban on removing large trees after the trees were cut.
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