The Vienna Town Council on Dec. 6 unanimously accepted an anonymous donation of $20,000 to pay for the removal of 27 Bradford/Callery pear trees along the Nutley Street, S.W., median and their replacement with native species including black gum, honey locust and willow oak trees.
Bradford/Callery pear trees are non-native species in Northern Virginia and the spread of their seeds in parks and rights-of-way reduces tree diversity and results in too many Bradford/Callery trees, town officials said.
Vienna Parks and Recreation Department maintenance staff will dismantle and remove the existing Bradford/Callery pear trees. The town’s arborist and park-maintenance specialist will oversee selection and planting of the replacement trees.
The donated funds will be used to grind the resulting stumps, as well as the purchase, delivery and planning of the new trees.
A total of 76 trees now line the Nutley Street median. The town will complete the removal and replacement of the offending pear trees by the end of fiscal year 2023.
Half of the new trees will be planted next spring and half next fall, with a month between the tree removals and new plantings, said Vienna Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Herman.
The replacement trees will be 7 to 9 feet tall and have a caliper (diameter) measurement of 2 inches, said Jeremy Edwards, the town’s park-maintenance specialist.
According to Kevin Heffenan, a natural-stewardship biologist with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Bradford pear species was “introduced intentionally, but has shown to have undesirable traits horticulturally and ecologically. It should be abandoned in favor of native species.”
Bob Robinson of the town’s Conservation and Sustainability Commission said Walt Kelly’s animal comic strip Pogo summed up things well.
“We have met the enemy and he is us,” Robinson said.
Council members urged the Parks and Recreation Department to put up prominent signage during the tree removals and replacements so the public does not get alarmed.
“We don’t want there to be misinformation and have people see trees being cut down and think it’s a bad thing,” said Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert. “We’re going to get ahead of it.”
“People just have a visceral reaction” to tree removals, agreed Council member Ed Somers.