Between the Lines

Between the Lines By David Lias Is it always a good idea to plant a tree?

If we hadn't our bewitching autumn foliage, we should still have to credit the weather with one feature which compensates for all its bullying vagaries � the ice-storm: when a leafless tree is clothed with ice from the bottom to the top � ice that is as bright and clear as crystal; when every bough and twig is strung with ice-beads, frozen dew-drops, and the whole tree sparkles cold and white, like the Shah of Persia's diamond plume. Then the wind waves the branches and the sun comes out and turns all those myriads of beads and drops to prisms that glow and burn and flash with all manner of colored fires, which change and change again with inconceivable rapidity from blue to red, from red to green, and green to gold � the tree becomes a spraying fountain, a very explosion of dazzling jewels; and it stands there the acme, the climax, the supremest possibility in art or nature, of bewildering, intoxicating, intolerable magnificence. One cannot make the words too strong.

Mark Twain

It's hard to argue with Mark Twain, especially when he strings together words that are, without question, the truth.

Trees are beautiful. Thank the good Lord that there are varieties of the tall woody plants that will grow here on the plains of South Dakota.

But, as was demonstrated at the Vermillion City Council meeting Monday, there are times and places when trees and man have trouble co-existing.

Vermillion Beautiful, Inc., a local non-profit agency, will be participating in the national Make A Difference Day Saturday by planting trees on the north side of Cherry Street.

At least 24 trees will be planted along a stretch of Cherry Street between Plum and Jefferson streets. Teams of volunteer workers from fraternities, sororities, the USD Student Senate, and from local groups will be planting the trees.

The group will be planting marshal seedless ash trees, which are the same type as those that line Cherry Street by the USD campus. This effort to improve Vermillion's quality of life is to be commended.

It also, however, offers an opportunity to closely explore the consequences of planting trees along a busy street or in front of buildings that house businesses.

Trees provide more than shade and beauty. They also require a certain amount of maintenance. They naturally shed leaves in the fall, and drop twigs and branches after a strong windstorm.

The hardy plants have an incredible root system, that, at times, can interfere with buried utilities, such as water and sewer mains, and telephone and electrical lines.

Alderman Leo Powell noted that the trees scheduled to be planted Saturday will be placed on city property in an area that already serves as a right of way for utilities.

The strip of property on the north side of Cherry Street may look somewhat bare now, but under the ground there lies a water main, a new telephone pole cable, and a new street light circuit. There also may be gas lines buried in the region.

The area could also play host to buried cable television lines. It was noted Monday that Vermillion's new cable TV ordinance contains provisions that prohibit trenching under the drip line of trees.

It needs to be pointed out that there's nothing illegal about planting trees along this stretch of Cherry Street. We want to emphasize that Vermillion Beautiful, Inc. is doing nothing wrong, and has followed the letter of the law by obtaining a tree permit.

We just wonder if the group has picked the best area in Vermillion to plant trees.

Not all of the property owners along the affected stretch of Cherry Street are going to allow trees to be planted. That apparently means that instead of a long, straight, unbroken line of trees, that area of town will be adorned by alternating gaps of trees and open ground.

There are plenty of good things to say about trees. Does that always mean it's a good idea to plant a tree?

It appears that, over time, Vermillion will someday come to realize the answer to this question as the freshly planted trees along Cherry Street mature.

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