Why Are so Many Trees Being Cut down in South Dakota?
Trouble is brewing across the state regarding trees being removed on county township right of ways and ditches.
Split Rock Township just east of Sioux Falls is following through on a state law to remove trees. In some counties in South Dakota, the tree removal is happening for the first time and it is affecting the esthetics of country roads.
Stacey De Boer lives on what locals know as Spook Road, or 264th Street south of Brandon. Seeing the trees removed on a portion of the road is disheartening.
“The canopy of trees is gone. Just so ugly. Just so barren," said De Boer. "In the fall, you know, beautiful, it was just a beautiful road to walk on and now its not. If it continues to the west the giant cottonwoods will be gone and you don’t get those trees back in our lifetime.”
Bonnie Duffy of the Split Rock County Township explains why there is no choice but to remove the trees.
“It is a state law that requires us to do that. It’s also a safety issue for us, a huge liability. I understand that some of the patrons are quite concerned out here. We had our annual meeting and they agreed that they wanted us to continue to do that. I don’t think they understand the ramifications that could happen if a child or patron hit one of those trees. It’s in the best interest of the people who live here.”
According to the townships, the tree removal is at the urging of the South Dakota Association of Towns and Townships. The law to remove the trees is stemming from a lawsuit where a driver hit a tree in a ditch and the landowner and township were found liable.
Brandon Township is in the process of sending letters to homeowners advising that any trees in right of ways or ditches need to be removed at the owner’s expense, and are working with owners on the time frame.