Monroe Trees Tagged For Possible Removal

MONROE, LA (AP) — Riverside Drive's majestic magnolias in Monroe have been flagged for inspection and possible removal because of damage from last month's tornado.

         John Stringer, executive director of the Tensas Basin Levee District, tells Scott Rogers with The News-Star, the trees flagged by the district will be inspected and those deemed unsalvageable will have to be removed for safety reasons.

         Once Monroe Public Works is finished with debris removal, the city will determine what needs to be done with damaged trees, Stringer said. That could be a month away.

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         "My thoughts are remove the ones that are damaged and plant ornamental trees, but the ball is in the city's court with what to do with them," Stringer said.

         Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo said trees will be replanted to replace those removed.

         "It's unfortunate those trees have been destroyed because of a natural disaster that obviously couldn't be helped. But if they pose a safety issue they will ultimately come down and more trees can be planted," Mayo said.

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         Current Army Corps of Engineers policy requires the removal of any vegetation within 15 feet of the toe of the levees, regardless of whether it has damaged the structural integrity of the levees.

         Most of the trees damaged are outside this 15-foot right of way.

         "Our observation is many are damaged and beyond repair," Stringer said.

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         Tensas Basin Levee District maintenance supervisor Tracy Hilburn said some trees have been damaged so badly they'll rot or succumb to disease if left standing. However, none pose an immediate threat.

         "When these older, big trees get any type of disease or rot we have to lean on public safety. I understand the beautification aspect, but we don't want to leave something that has the possibility of rotting and falling, causing damage to people or property," Hilburn said.

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