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79 Trees In Missoula To Be Removed And Replaced

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MISSOULA -

It's official, almost 80 trees around Missoula are coming down. This comes after Missoula City Council unanimously voted to sign a contract with Treasure State Tree Service to remove 79 dead or dying boulevard trees which could pose a safety threat, and reduce the health of the remaining trees.

"A large portion of the forest in Missoula is even-aged, their fairly old," said City of Missoula Urban Forester, Chris Boza.

Urban foresters have been working on a way to remove the trees, many of which are more than a century old. The decision did not come without creating some controversy.

"I feel like it's not really a good idea," said First Street resident, Griffin Hull.

Hull said the trees make Missoula feel like home.

"They really add a lot of shade, and really make the neighborhood feel like it's a neighborhood," Hull said.

Boza said the move is necessary.

"You have to remember they are living organisms, and do have a life span," he added.

The 79 trees that are coming down, are just a portion of the 1,300 trees city foresters consider a "high risk".

"High risked are those that have structural defects that may cause them to fail, or trees that have high percentage of dead wood," Boza said.

The trees, which are a range of different types, are located in all six wards in town, but the bulk are around the University District and Slant Streets. That's because most of those trees are the same age.

"The challenge is to get new trees in so we have a canopy for future generations," Boza said.

The city's Urban Forestry Division hopes to replace the trees by next spring. The division's spokesperson said they will be replaced by fast-growing species, like linden, honey locust and bur oak, which she said are better suited for Missoula's climate and the boulevard growing conditions.

The tree removal project begins this week, and will take about six to eight weeks to complete. People who live in the removal areas have been notified the trees are being cut down.

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