Media Reports


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Treepocalypse Now

Is Atlanta facing a 'Treepocalypse'?

Tree Next Door member and ISA certified arborist Peter Jenkins, along with Greg Levine of Trees Atlanta, speaks with Channel 11 about the aging of Atlanta's urban forest.  Jenkins and Levine explain that not only do we have many trees planted during the early part of the last century that are reaching the end of their life expectancy, but that the rapid development Atlanta has experienced has created a "heat dome" over the city, which has led to overall higher temperatures and less rainfall within the city.

Trees Atlanta does a great job at planting new trees, but it takes decades to develop a mature urban canopy. Aging urban forests, like Atlanta's, are suffering. As a recent New York Times article points out, we risk losing our tree canopy before the new trees have had a chance to grow. If Atlanta loses a substantial percentage of its mature tree canopy, newer trees that have been planted will be subject to potentially even hotter temperatures and less rainfall, shortening their life expectancy.

It is important to preserve as many of our older trees which are still healthy, even if they are not expected to live more than another ten or twenty years. These "grandfather trees" serve a vital purpose in keeping our tree canopy intact while we wait for the next generation of Atlanta's trees to mature.

 

From Creative Loafing

June 23, 2011 - Lake Claire Citizens Critical of City's Treatment of Trees

"As chairman of the Tree Next Door, Shel Schlegman is familiar with the fight to save Granmaw Gordon and the other trees on the Gordon Avenue property. His group's stated goal is to protect Atlanta's tree canopy by ensuring that the city's tree protection ordinance — which they say is quite strong — is actually enforced. Part of that mission has been keeping an eye on the city's Arborist Division. The secretary of the Tree Next Door is Tom Coffin, the city's former senior arborist who was unceremoniously removed from his post in 2008 when he blew the whistle on fellow field arborists who allegedly weren't adequately enforcing the Tree Protection ordinance. Coffin sued the city and won a settlement for back pay and pension benefits. Schlegman, for his part, had been appointed as the first chairman of the Tree Conservation Commission by then-Mayor Bill Campbell.

The Tree Next Door reviewed the daily field activities of the city's three current field arborists and determined that in the first quarter of this year they handled what would be a "reasonable workload" for a single arborist, each performing an average of just 4.5 inspections a day.

As for enforcement of the tree ordinance, during the first quarter the Tree Next Door says city records indicate the arborists had a total of just three enforcement activities between them — one stop work order and two recompense demands for improper tree removal. No citations were issued.

Schlegman doesn't mince words: 'They are doing a very bad job.'"

 

From Civic Associations and Neighborhoods

January 2011 - The Lake Claire Clarion - Further Adventures of the "Real-Life Lorax”: Tom Coffin (pages 6 - 7)

"Tom’s 'whistleblower' lawsuit to get his job back is still on the docket of the City Law Department. The City has rescheduled it several times, but he thinks it is firmly scheduled this time—for  February 1, 2011.  The Tree Next Door (TTND) may also plan some sort of action at City Hall in advance of the trial, directed at insisting that the Tree Protection Ordinance be enforced."

   

From The Buckhead Reporter

December 17, 2010 - Atlanta Reassigns Chief Arborist and Names New Bureau of Buildings Head

"The city of Atlanta has named a new director of the Bureau of Buildings and reassigned a city arborist who had come under fire from a tree advocacy group, according to an e-mail from the city chief operating officer.

In his e-mail to the chairman of The Trees Next Door organization, Shel Schlegman, Atlanta Chief Operating Officer Peter Aman said Don Rosenthal will be the new director of the bureau and that Arboricultural Manager Ainsley Caldwell would be reassigned."

November 4, 2010 - Tree Supporters Claim City Isn't Following Up On Their Complaints

"After the local tree organization e-mailed Aman in October arguing it had received questionable reports by one particular arborist, Aman apparently responded that he had turned the complaints over to the city’s Law Department for investigation.

Phone calls to Aman’s office were referred to the mayor’s office of communications, where no one answered any of the four phones of the top communications department representatives or the phone messages left."

July 29, 2010 - Does City Face Conflicts Between Tree Ordinance, Development?

"Does the fact that the city’s arborists report to the head of Atlanta’s Bureau of Buildings—the agency that controls new development—set up the potential for conflicts of interest and an environment that prevents the arborists from doing their job of enforcing the city’s tree ordinance?

The Tree Next Door, a tree protection group, says yes."

July 1, 2010 - Pruning of City’s Arborist Staff Alarms Atlanta Tree Supporters

"The Tree Next Door organization — founded by former city arborist Tom Coffin, Dr. Jeri Breiner and other supporters of the city’s tree ordinance — sent a letter to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed protesting the moves.

The Tree Next Door organization said on its website that it plans to conduct its own analysis of the operations of the arborists, including requesting records from the city, for the first and second quarter of this year."

April 4, 2010 - Large Turnout at NPU-A Meeting Tackles Beefs with City Operations

"First in line was Dr. Jeri Breiner with the Trees Next Door organization, who criticized the city’s arborists for not doing their job and letting developers illegally cut down trees by using invalid site plans. She said the city’s arborists have incorrectly stamped tree removal permits on 11 Buckhead sites, including the site at 1001 West Paces Ferry.

Dr. Breiner said the city “fired the only arborist, Tom Coffin, who did cite people for tree ordinance violations.”

   

TTND on YouTube

"Alice in City of Atlanta" Alice Liddel visits the City of Atlanta Arborist Division, only to fall down a rabbit hole into a City Government Wonderland where the rules are constantly shifting and do not appear as otherwise they might have been.

"Investigative Interview" A spoof on the so-called "investigation" conducted by the City of Atlanta legal department between October 2010 and March 2011 in response to citizens' claims that the city aborists are not doing their jobs. The reference to "Tom" in this video is to "Tom Coffin", the city arborist who was fired in 2008 because he spoke out against the arborists in his department who were not doing their jobs. Tom filed a whistleblower lawsuit, which the City of Atlanta offered to settle on very favorable terms just before the trial began. In other words, the City paid Tom to NOT work, which is what they continue to do today with their remaining arborists.
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