December 15, 2022
The Truth about Trees

Questions about the City of Saint Paul's methodology
with regards to studying the impact on trees

The City’s plan states that there are 1,561 trees (Pg 114 – 60% Master Plan) in the 4.5-mile-long Summit Avenue corridor. 

  • They utilized GIS data only to estimate the impact to trees by the full reconstruction of Summit Avenue and building the off-road bike trail. 
  • They used one measure of where the curb line intersects the Structural Root Zone (SRZ) and the Critical Root Zone (CRZ) to determine the level of vulnerability. 
  • Their evaluation results:
  • 221 (14%) trees will have a High Vulnerability designation
  • Of those, 132 (8%) trees are highly vulnerable today, prior to construction, including 82 existing ash trees which the city forestry marked for removal.

In stark contrast, independent arborists hired by SOS report a vastly different story.

Independent Arborists with a national reputation for studying and publishing research on urban tree canopies made in-person evaluations of two 4-block sample areas along the avenue looking at the tree locations and the critical root zones. Extrapolating their results the full length of Summit:

  • 827 - 952 trees would be severely impacted and unlikely to recover from the construction activity. 

Why the different numbers?

The City's evaluation neglects the construction impact from 3 additional construction components – sidewalks, driveway aprons and carriage walks. 
  • 150 driveways,
  • 313 carriage walks
  • 77 street intersections over the full length of Summit Avenue. 

If approved, there will be construction activity on all four sides of the root zones of the trees. 

The choice being presented is to trade tree canopy and historic character for a new paved, off-street bike trail. The trail plans should be rejected. It is not feasible in the context of Summit Avenue and violates the Met Council requirement that “Regional Trails should be placed where the trail tread way will have no adverse impact on the natural resource base” (Pg 177 – 60% Master Plan)

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ABOUT SOS (Save Our Street)
Save Our Street is a citizen group that seeks to educate and advocate for the preservation of the historic streetscape of Summit Avenue as a treasured St. Paul destination and a safe, tree-lined, multi-modal corridor for generations to come.
SOS Steering Committee Chair: Gary Todd 651-470-4720
Food for thought
A tree's root zone ignored during recent construction on Summit this past summer.
This example comes from Wheelock Parkway and would similar to the 150 driveways that would cross proposed bike trail.