Letter: Historic tree loss for Park Rapids
An old cottonwood tree was recently cut near the former city beach on the Fish Hook River in Park Rapids (Enterprise, Aug. 14, 2013). Its size made it a rare sight. Not many people will likely see one with a larger trunk, unless they visit the Pacific Northwest or California. The tree likely existed when the city began, around 1880. Countless swimmers and pedestrians have enjoyed its shade.
Its 3 foot high stump unofficially measures 6 foot 6 inches in diameter. If the trunk circumference was measured at 4 1/2 feet (where records are measured) it would probably be over 232 inches.
In checking the Minnesota DNR Native Big Tree Registry for 49 tree species’ circumferences, only two exceed the size of the cottonwood that was cut. Even the state’s largest white pine (214 inches) or Norway pine (115 inches) do not exceed it. Only three Minnesota tree circumference records are larger – a bur oak (275 inches) and a silver maple (312 inches), and the largest (also a cottonwood), at 394 inches.
The cutting of the tree is an irreplaceable loss to the residents and visitors to Park Rapids. I hope there is someone who can explain to the
public why such a healthy, giant tree was cut without an exhausting search for alternative construction designs to save it.
While it is too late now to
discuss alternatives for the beach cottonwood, the loss should point out the need for public information and input before such historic, majestic trees are casually removed for “improvements.”