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Friday, April 19: U Village

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Give Astra a Chance

2/24/24 Astra, a 100-year-old western red cedar, Wedgwood neighborhood

Astra, an ancient western red cedar, first came to my attention last fall when the organization The Last 6000 put out a call: The 100-year-old tree was in danger. Although architects had shown ways in which the development could be built while still allowing the tree to live, the developer of the property where Astra stood had applied to have the healthy tree cut down.

A Gratitude Gathering had been scheduled for Feb. 24 to raise awareness of the tree’s imminent danger. Two days before that, the tree was vandalized (suspected by the developer) and injured so that it would be at risk of falling, giving the developer legitimate grounds to cut it down.

Unlike many major US cities, Seattle allows trees to be managed by the same department responsible for development. That seems like a direct conflict of interest. The result is that laws are in place to protect old trees, but the laws are not always enforced. Even when they are enforced, developers simply pay the penalty and go forward with their plans with no consequences.

I joined the substantial group at the Gratitude Gathering in the Wedgewood neighborhood, where the block in front of the property had been closed so the event could take place. Police cars blocked either end of the street. Neighbors and other concerned citizens listened to speakers describe the challenges and answer questions. At the close of the ceremony, people sang a variation of the John Lennon refrain: “All we are saying is give trees a chance.”

9/17/23 Astra's forked trunk sketched last fall.

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