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Majority of damaged Edmondson Avenue cherry trees need to be replaced

Majority of damaged Edmondson Avenue cherry trees need to be replaced
Jim Himel, director of the Catonsville Tree Canopy Project, stands by cherry trees along a half-mile stretch of Edmondson Avenue that were damaged last month. (Jon Bleiweis / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

The director of the Catonsville Tree Canopy Project anticipates that at least 25 of the 32 cherry trees that were deliberately damaged in medians along a half-mile stretch of Edmondson Avenue last month will have to be replaced.

The trees, most planted two years ago by the group, were cuts over the first weeks of July.

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Jim Himel, a forester and retired planner for the state and Baltimore City, evaluated the trees and 50 rose bushes between the trees Wednesday.

Eight of the 32 trees are dead and another three will eventually die, he said. A dozen trees have a 25 percent chance of survival and another seven have a 50-50 chance, he said. Two of the 32 trees, on the western end of the islands near Midvale Avenue, were in good condition, with a 90 percent chance of survival.

The leaves of the damaged trees — if they haven't fallen — have turned from a healthy dark green to either a light green or yellow.

Himel said 32 of the 50 rose bushes are dead, with less than 5 percent foliage, while another 14 have a 90 percent chance of dying. He concluded that 48 of them will need to be replaced.

He believes the bushes were damaged by a damage. He believes it could be related to the tree damage but is unsure whether it was deliberate or unintentional.

"The timing was exactly the same," he said.

Baltimore County Police spokesman Cpl. Shawn Vinson said the vandalism remains under investigation and would not comment further.

Vinson and Himel said they have not heard of a similar incident taking place in the area.

Himel said the trees and bushes will be replaced either on the first Saturday in November or April, when the Catonsville Tree Canopy Project holds its twice-a-year plantings. Those are the times of year when the weather is ideal to plant trees, he said.

The trunk of a damaged tree cherry tree along the Edmondson Avenue median.
The trunk of a damaged tree cherry tree along the Edmondson Avenue median. (Courtesy photo/Catonsville Tree Canopy)

The cost to replace each tree costs $500, Himel said and estimated it would cost an additional $500 to maintain each tree for its first five years. The cost to replace the 48 bushes would cost about $1,000, he said.

Himel said the group, which is funded by grants and private donations, has the funds needed to replace the trees.

Jerry Hazelwood, a 74-year-old retired architect who lives near the trees, has lived in Catonsville for four years was shocked to see the damage. He said the trees give the area a neighborhood feel and was willing to donate to help restore the trees.

"To me, that's like poisoning a dog or something," he said about the damage. "How can you do that?"

Joseph Chilcoat, owner of the 7-Eleven convenience store franchise on Edmondson Avenue, has Catonsville Tree Canopy Project shirts on sale at his store to support the group.

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"It's just disturbing that somebody would be that messed up to put that much effort and energy planning," he said. "We've had a lot of people coming in upset about it. I didn't know that many people noticed, but they did."



The Catonsville Tree Canopy Project was created in 2010. The group, which has about 40 volunteers, hopes to plant and maintain 1,000 trees in Catonsville by 2020. So far, it has planted more than 750 trees.

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