Baseball, Trees and Risk

My son was playing a baseball game at a college field near Boston on one of the crazy-hot days we had recently, August 5, 2022. It always amazes me how much people love trees on these days. Obviously, baseball games are not known for shade. So the throngs of parents stake their claim under the rare tree. The huddled masses squeeze together in an attempt to avoid heat stroke.

When I see this, my tree-nerd instincts automatically kick in. My eyes instantly scan the tree for broken and dead limbs. As the picture shows, this one is a doozy! A big, beautiful red oak growing, against all odds, on the edge of a parking lot above the stands and next to an asphalt path. The perfect shady place to put a chair and a cooler of Gatorade.

Can you say danger, liability, deferred maintenance? Baseball-lifer parents are always on high alert for a foul ball, but how about a dead oak limb that could, literally, kill you?

Why didn’t the school prune the tree? Why are people sitting under a tree loaded with dead limbs? Are the odds better that you could be hit by a dead limb than win Mega Millions? Yes! Do you need an arborist to make this observation?

Unfortunately, we see this all the time. It’s usually an oversight. Maybe they just don’t notice? Sometimes towns and schools don’t have the resources to pay to have their trees pruned. In this instance, I don’t think money is an issue.

We all want to put the crosswalk in at the dangerous intersection. Unfortunately, too often it gets installed after something awful happens. We need to encourage and cajole schools, towns and universities to prune their trees before something awful happens.

David M. Anderson, Certified Treecare Safety Professional (CTSP) and a Massachusetts certified arborist, is a manager with Mayer Tree Service, Inc., a 28-year TCIA member company based in Essex, Massachusetts.

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