Boise road project dooms Ustick cottonwoods

The 100-year-old trees, near the end of their lives, fall so the street can be widened.

sberg@idahostatesman.comDecember 13, 2013 

Brian Schreiner is sad, but not too angry, that a stand of black cottonwoods near his home north of Ustick Road is gone.

Schreiner painted pictures of the trees. He watched birds that perched in them.

Over the past week, Ada County Highway District crews cut down the trees to make room for widening Ustick Road between Five Mile and Cloverdale roads.

“I’m really sorry to see them go. It really changes this neighborhood,” Schreiner said. “They were a focal point. A lot of people looked at those trees and a lot of people enjoyed them for years.”

The trees may have been planted in the early years of the Ustick Town Site, which was platted in 1907 and whose mercantile, bank and creamery buildings still stand.

They were a century old or close to it, and probably would have died soon anyway, Boise city forester Brian Jorgenson said.

The cottonwoods, a fast-growing, short-lived species, benefited from growing right next to an irrigation ditch and were bigger than normal, Jorgenson said.

But their time had come. Some of their stumps show signs of extensive rot.

“That’s real common for that species. They live fast and die young,” Jorgenson said. “They might have had another five to 10 years at most.”

When the Highway District’s $4.6 million project is finished, Ustick Road will have four 11-foot-wide through-traffic lanes, 11-foot medians or turn lanes, sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides, and three signalized pedestrian crossings.

The work is scheduled to be finished in August.

Jorgenson said the city has no immediate plans to plant new trees along that stretch of Ustick Road.

As development occurs, he said, the city likely will plant trees on the south side of the road and make tree-planting a condition of approval for permits to develop the north side.

Sven Berg: 377-6275

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