Champion Dawn Redwood Threatened

In an effort to preserve a unique, mature tree in Arlington, the Williamsburg Civic Association and Arlington Tree Action Group have asked the County Board and county staff to not let the Commonwealth’s Champion Dawn redwood be removed by a builder who intends to subdivide a large lot, tear down the existing house, and build two new six-bedroom houses.

The one-of-a-kind tree species was thought to be extinct until it was found growing in China. It was imported in 1948 and proved a fast-grower with feathery needles it sheds in the fall. Read the civic association’s letter, which notes the tree’s large size and location in the Resource Protection Area (RPA) of a nearby stream.

Arlington’s Urban Forestry Commission joined the debate with a July 6 letter urging the County Board to direct the county manager “to pursue all possible alternatives to protect this magnificent tree and the RPA.”

Some local jurisdictions, such as the District of Columbia, have strong tree-preservation ordinances and impose significant financial penalties for removing a healthy, mature tree. That is not the case in Virginia, where local governments are restricted from enacting ordinances that are more stringent than statutes that govern the Commonwealth. This so-called Dillon Rule thwarts local action on many issues, including enacting more effective tree-preservation controls.

About TreeStewards

TreeStewards of Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia, are trained volunteers who work to protect, preserve, and enhance urban tree canopy through public education and volunteer activities such as planting, pruning, and caring for trees.
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