Target: Members of the Georgia General Assembly
Goal: Protect trees in Georgia by banning billboard companies from clear-cutting trees on state highways.
A policy in Georgia allows billboard companies to “clear-cut state-owned, roadside trees that obstruct their signs by paying only a fraction of the trees’ actual value.” The Tree Removal Statute is expected to threaten trees along thousands of highway miles and the overall aesthetics of Georgia’s public lands. This petition urges the Georgia General Assembly to reconsider the unintended consequences of this policy and protect Georgia’s trees.
In 2006, the city of Columbus, Georgia partnered with local organizations to challenge the constitutionality of the Tree Removal Statute. As a result, Georgia’s Supreme Court prohibited the Department of Transportation from issuing permits to billboard companies for tree removal. Recently, Georgia’s Supreme Court reversed its previous ruling and now permits the clear-cutting of trees that obstruct the motorist’s view of billboards. This policy threatens beautification projects on public roads and will make the state liable for soil erosion and drainage problems resulting from the loss of these trees.
Despite claims that this Tree Removal Statute is revenue neutral, the economic and environmental impacts of clear-cutting thousands of trees are unknown. Forests serve many crucial functions such as improving air and water quality, controlling temperature and mitigating the heat island effect in cities in the summer, sequestering carbon in the atmosphere, and maintaining habitat biodiversity. Trees also provide a sound and visual barrier for the residential and commercial areas surrounding highways.
Trees Atlanta recommends an alternative strategy to embrace and strengthen trees. “If we invest a fraction of the amount of money it would take to remove all of these tall trees into keeping the trees healthy and protecting more forest, we can have a better Georgia for all.”
Sign below if you agree that lawmakers should prioritize the preservation of trees over corporate interests.
Dear Members of the Georgia General Assembly,
We demand that you challenge the Tree Removal Statute that permits billboard companies to clear-cut trees obstructing their signs on state highways.
As the economic and environmental impacts of this policy haven’t been determined, allowing companies to clear-cut thousands of trees on Georgia’s highways is a highly irresponsible decision. The loss of these trees may result in expensive and irreparable problems related to soil erosion and water quality that threaten the long-term health of the environment.
Instead of granting immense power to corporate interests, lawmakers should consider a more holistic approach to protecting trees and their numerous benefits.
[YOUR NAME HERE]
Photo Credit: Don-Denver via Blogspot