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Rodney P. Frelinghuysen

Congressmen defend the elm

WASHINGTON -- For months, Reps. Charles Bass and Rodney Frelinghuysen watched with anguish as the East Lawn of the Capitol was systematically stripped of its century-old trees to make way for the building of an underground visitors center.

Every time the Republican congressmen returned from their districts in New Hampshire and New Jersey, they found more bald spaces in Frederick Law Olmsted's once elegant landscape.

But when they heard of plans to topple a 175-year-old rare English elm -- because it was in the way of construction workers and more space was needed for House members to park -- the two decided to make a stand.

In a challenge to the House and Senate...