The community has been abuzz about the impending move of Idaho’s giant sequoia, slated to take place over the weekend. But while tree lovers are pleased that St. Luke’s is investing around $300,000 to preserve this living piece of Idaho history, others are alarmed that the hospital’s expansion and improvement plans will also include the loss of 64 other trees in the area, plus 12 more on St. Luke’s property.
The trees will be removed around the perimeter of the hospital campus in Downtown Boise to make room for a new cycle track and improved sidewalks. Many trees along Idaho, 2nd and State streets are already posted with removal signs from the city.
Residents and others are disappointed that the existing trees could not be integrated into the new plan.
“The tree canopy in the area will be forever changed,” said nearby resident Cathy Fischer.
The cycle track and other pedestrian improvements are part of the city’s Fort Boise Land Use and Transportation plan aimed at improving the area for walkers and bikers, said hospital spokeswoman Anita Kissee Wilder.
The hospital is working in partnership with the city of Boise and the Ada County Highway District on the project, which was designed partly based on public input following workshops led by St. Luke’s.
In some cases, she said, city foresters had already determined that trees in the cycle track area were unhealthy and unsafe, and thus slated for removal.
St. Luke’s, according to city code, is required to replace any trees it removes, based on recommendations from the city forester as well as ACHD right-of-way rules.
St. Luke’s, said Kissee Wilder, will plant 90 new trees to replace the 64 that it’s required to replace. Planting will take place either this fall or in the spring of 2018, depending on the contractor’s schedule and weather conditions.