If you are living, you just have to love trees! Trees, alongside other large plants, play a major role in daily life. They convert otherwise hazardous carbon dioxide into oxygen for people to breathe whilst beautifying open space. Therefore, one might balk at the idea of cutting down this vital living organism in droves. In the Queen City, the tree remains an integral constituent of Charlotte's identity. Charlotte city leaders accepted this opinion, to a degree, with their recent decisions towards enhancing the tree canopy of the Queen City.
Charlotte's tree canopy has been through a series of highs and lows in the last decade. Many remember some of the darker days in history, particularly the onslaught of Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Although passing through Charlotte as a minimal storm, Hugo did not spare the tree canopy from its wrath. Winds gusts approaching 99 miles per hour
were able to destroy many large trees.
An equally-damaging threat to the tree canopy, whilst remaining a tribute to the "rise" of the Queen City, would be the explosive growth and development of the city proper and periphery. According to an article from the Charlotte Business Journal about the tree canopy, the urban area has grown 39 percent from 1985 to 2008, due to development
. If one travels on Interstate 485 (itself an indicator of Charlotte's growth), shopping centers, parking lots, and other developments continue to appear. This growth cost Charlotte 49 percent of its trees during this same 23-year period. This certainly brings a certain je ne sais quoi
to the term healthy urban growth.
Adding insult to injury, a setback to the city's tree canopy lies in a new law about tree coverage near highway billboards. State legislators approved a law allowing billboard operators to remove additional vegetation surrounding advertisements. Due to the new measure, interstate highway billboards can remove trees and other vegetation up to 340 feet
away from the billboard. One can imagine how many billboards lie on any stretch of Charlotte highway.
As Charlotte continues its prosperous growth path, the Queen City must guard her tree canopy carefully. Growth will always bring down additional trees in light of commercial expansion and urban sprawl. The new outlet mall in the Steele Creek area
serves as an testament to this dichotomy. Nevertheless, Charlotte denizens cannot forget the importance of trees in our daily lives.