Ever see a swarm of activity on social media and start to wonder what everyone is talking about? It happened to me a couple of weeks ago. I was checking my favorite site and several of my friends were commenting on why it had to happen. Why they did it. Where all of it went. What was it?    

I grew concerned. I was a bit scared. I had no idea what they were talking about. What could it be? Then it became a little clear. People had begun to lose their minds about the trees that were being cut down between Brunswick and Bath.  

Never have I seen so many people pine over some birch and ash trees. It was like a member of the family had been taken down with a sharpened axe. I get it. They were surely poplar but an opinion piece and letters to editors even showed up on paper that used to be trees.    

I understand the sentimentality of some things. I can even understand the sentimentality of a tree or bush that you have planted for a special occasion. However, the trees that were taken down between the north and southbound lanes of Route 1 were not from a special occasion. You could not visit them or have a picnic beneath them. You could not park, lawfully anyway, to gaze upon them. They were just there.    

Now, what the trees did was to make the driving on that stretch of road a little more dangerous. Those trees gave critters places to hide. They allowed those animals to get closer to the roadway until they made their fateful leap into the lanes of oncoming traffic. Those same animals that were protected by the trees became a real-life episode of Frogger on one of Maine’s busier roads.    

That combination did not make for a great mix.  

With some of the trees cleared out, it gives a driver a chance to see one of those animals and maybe provide an extra second or two before the four-legged speed bump becomes a hood ornament. In the grand scheme of things, I would rather save Bambi, Thumper or Meeko and a hefty bill at the local auto repair shop than admire a tree as I zip by at 55 or 60 mph.  

On those occasions when I would drive that route, I always had this feeling like the sides of the road were closing in. The trees were close to the road. And they were tall. At times, even during broad daylight, it would seem very dark with those trees acting as if they were creating a canopy over the road.   

Driving that far in a darkened canyon, it bore resemblance of waiting to find the exhaust port of the Death Star, albeit without the Tie Fighters coming after you.  

The state was right to take those trees down even if the public, or some members of it, were against it. When the State clear cut the sides of I-295 between Freeport and Yarmouth it made that stretch of road safer and has seemed to cut down on encounters with wildlife. Perhaps that will be the same once the drama has died down from this endeavor.    

My only hope for the trees that were taken down is that something useful came of them. Trees are a resource. They are one of nature’s great gifts to mankind. Trees can be turned into any number of really awesome products. Tables, baseball bats, bowls, even building supplies. Trees can help our economy catch fire. The real tragedy for the trees that were cut down along Route 1would be if they were just dumped in a landfill or left somewhere to rot. That would be a shame. Otherwise, let’s make the road safer by making sure that the trees don’t shelter a hazard for all of those people who motor past them daily.  

Jonathan Crimmins can be reached at [email protected]

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