Street tree abuse is our term for management of street trees that results in their death, or in severe damage that shortens their lives. We have previously shown examples of this throughout the Lexington area. Now, we show an egregious example of street tree abuse while it is happening.
The scene is the Legacy Trail, a popular public walking and cycling trail. The Legacy Trail is a cooperative project among many organizations and companies, including the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. Trees were planted by the cooperating organizations, and the trail is regularly mowed by contractors. We have previously reported on the problem with low-bid mowing contractors. The contractors have an incentive to go as fast as possible, and no incentive at all to avoid damaging the trees. In addition to striking trees, the contractors also struck the few tree guards that were left. Repeated striking of the guard can damage bark underneath, and also will eventually knock the guards off.
On this particular day, I happened to be photographing trees along the trail when the mowing contractors came by. They paid no attention to me. The mowers repeatedly struck the trees. The photographs show that there was old damage (O, gray areas) and new damage (N, brown areas). The new damage was not present when I looked at the trees just before the mowing contractors began their work.
Conclusions: These mowing contractors are being paid to kill trees. There is no enforcement of contractual provisions to avoid tree damage, and no incentive for the contractors to avoid damage. Extensive repeated damage like this is almost inevitably fatal.