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Plaza Red Maple

The Red Sunset Maple tree on the plaza inexplicably died last month.  A couple of citizens have raised questions about the tree.  Here are the answers.

How old was the tree?
The tree was planted in 1991 as nursery stock.  Weíre not sure how old it was, but it was not an old tree.
Do we know what killed the tree?
No, we donít know and itís possible we never will. 
Was there any indication the tree was unhealthy?
An arboristís report in August of 2012 (click here to read it) indicated the tree would have few problems over the next few years.  The report noted compacted soil around the base and lighter-than-normal leaf color, which could have been a sign of nutrient deficiency.  In response, the Parks Department had been giving the tree extra water and fertilizer.
Could the treeís roots have been damaged during plaza reconstruction?
Itís possible, however a tree protection plan was part of the construction specifications (click here) and the excavation work on the plaza was done under the supervision of a certified arborist.  There was a tree protection barrier erected around the tree that was in place at all times except when archaeological excavation was done in January, 2013 (click here to see photos).  All root pruning was done by a certified arborist.
In addition, construction progress was monitored on a daily basis to ensure compliance with specifications.  (Click here.)
Are the other trees on the plaza in danger?
The other trees on the plaza appear to be thriving.  The trees planted as part of the reconstruction are showing normal growth.
When will the tree be removed?
A plan is coming forward to revitalize the landscaping around the base of the tree.  The old landscaping was trampled by foot traffic.  Weíll remove the maple and plant a new tree when that landscaping work is done.  The maple is very unlikely to drop any branches or limbs.  It probably wonít even drop its dead leaves.
What kind of tree will be planted there?
Thatís yet to be determined.  It probably needs to be a tree that puts down deeper roots than a red sunset maple.  Red sunset maples have shallow roots and they donít do well in areas that suffer from soil compaction.  It was probably the wrong tree for that space on the day it was planted.  The new tree will be vetted through a public process to ensure we plant a tree that will thrive and endure in that space.

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