St Louis, Missouri recently started dragging the Emerald Ash Borer into the story of the 50th Anniversary Celebration planned for the Gateway arch in 2015. Before we as arborists get all upset about the fact they are planning the preemptive removal of 1,000 Rosehill Ash Trees LONG BEFORE the Emerald Ash Borer even gets to St Louis, let’s review what I think is REALLY going on.
It really isn’t about the Emerald Ash Borer – It isn’t even there yet. It might not be there for years. Sure we all know it will get there in time, but this isn’t about the Emerald Ash Borer! It’s about money. And not money to treat the ash trees like we arborists feel should be done. But money to help fund this huge project they have planned.
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The truth? –
The National Park Service and the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation have a 50th Anniversary Celebration planned for 2015 for the fabeled Gateway Arch. They have already run an International Design Competition to completely redesign the entire 80 acre park. They have already announced a winner of this competition. It was won by Michael Van Valkenburgh, a landscape architect based out of New York.
As reported on the www.STLToday.com website by reporter Tim O’Neil on September 24, 2010, the job should cost about $300 million, NONE of which has been raised or appropriated.
Interesting. Real big ideas but now they need to raise the money. Another interesting comment was made about what the Van Valkenburgh team will be providing and I quote the Jakarta Globe. ” The VanValkenburgh team will turn a ratty forest into a nature park with treetop walkways that take advantage of the best views of the park.”
So these beautiful Rosehill Ash are now viewed as just a ratty forest. You know – that forest that was supposed to be the inspiration for what the settlers all saw before them as they came through “The Gateway to the West” on their way to fame and fortune.
Well, when my family and I visited St Louis in 2004, I realized then that there was a huge problem festering on the Arch grounds. I was shocked when I counted just shy of 1,000 ash trees in two separate monoculture plantings, one on each side of the Arch base. What idiot designed this?, I thought to myself. I didn’t have to wait long to find out. His name was plastered all over an award given in his name and written right on the wall inside the arch museum down underneath the arch grounds. I already justifiably called him an idiot. I’ll leave his name out of this as he doesn’t even deserve to be mentioned.
But the point is we all know today that he should never have planned such a huge monoculture planting, no matter what species of tree. I have to let him off the hook for the choice of ash trees, however, as he really wanted tulip poplars mass planted. But when the job was being done, he was outvoted by someone because they claimed tulip poplar wouldn’t be hardy enough on that site. So in come the ash trees. You KNOW the landscaper probably couldn’t locate a nursery that had 1,000 tulip poplars growing at that time. A true logistical problem but let’s blame it on not being hardy and we can ramrod a substitution past the architect. Today tulip poplars are suddenly MUCH more hardy, as they are one of the species being planned for replacement.
So a bad design has grown into a ratty forest and we have to figure out how to make this whole place nicer around the arch. And we need $300 million. Let’s put our thinking caps on.
I GOT IT! Let’s blame the Emerald Ash Borer! He’s going to kill all the ash anyway! We’ll have to replace them no matter what. So let’s see if we can get the Federal Government to pitch in and help us with our Emerald Ash Borer problem! We can cry emergency and disaster and everything! Why look what the Emerald Ash Borer is going to do to our ratty forest beautiful landscaping we used to have around our National Monument!
That way we can save face and not have to deal with the fact we let some idiot design us a ratty forest back 40 years ago.
See? Even though we can get upset about them cutting down all the ash trees, and jump up and down telling them all “We Can Save Your Ash Trees!” They don’t really care! It isn’t about the Emerald Ash Borer! It’s about money to help pay for their renovation they have planned. You know the one that makes that ratty forest of theirs look better.
But that is just this Board Certified Master Arborist’s opinion. Tell me yours! Send me a comment!