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UPDATE – Missoula Tree Vandalism Damage Could Top $6,000 [AUDIO]

Tree vandalized
photo by Lorna Wall

Sunday morning’s acts of vandalism to young trees along Brooks street in Missoula could potentially top $6,000, according to one city official.

Urban Forester for the City of Missoula, Greg Howe said Monday, that, at last count 12 trees, ranging in age from three to five years, had been pulled down or snapped off at the base by vandals.

“It looks like somebody, or a group of people pulled the trees over,” Howe said. “Some of the trees became somewhat bent over and uprooted, while others broke off at the base. We had two trees that were bent over that we were able to stand back up, and we will be monitoring those trees to see if they live. 10 trees were broken off at the base, and we had no way to repair them, so we had to cut those off at the base and remove those trees.”

Howe says the amount of damage may depend on more than just the trees themselves.

“When we look at the value of those tree to us, we figure out how much it cost us to plant those trees, how much it cost us to maintain them for the first two years after they were in the ground, that’s when we water, fertilize and prune them for the first time. That comes to about $500 for each tree for the first two years,” Howe said.

To replace the 12 trees could potentially cost over $6,000, when all costs are considered.

Sometimes we’re not able to go back and ask for all of our maintenance costs,” Howe said. If we only get replacement costs, we’ll be seeking at least $350 per tree,”

Howe said one neighbor who spoke with his crew as they inspected the damaged trees, speculated that the vandalism was not a random act.

“One neighbor who came out and talked to me this morning said she felt it was not a random act of vandalism,” Howe said. “She thought she overheard people say this was planned, some kind of thing to so, rather than just a spontaneous act, to pull them over. That’s just one person’s opinion. I haven’t talked to the police yet, so I don’t know exactly what the situation is yet.”

Missoula Urban Forester Greg Howe

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