Ministry Of Controversy

A Plea for Trees

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Tree removal near Louisville’s Bowman Field airport. Mike Hayman photo.

A friend of mine, pissed off with the continuing loss of Louisville’s trees, emailed me yesterday, after reading the front page of Louisville’s Courier-Journal. She stripped off the bark. “You know what I say to myself every time I step outdoors? I sure wish they would mow down a bunch more trees so that more motherfucking planes could fly over.”

Some people in Louisville are annoyed or even unnerved by air traffic, but it’s part of the deal. Louisville is not Atlanta or Chicago, but there are a lot of United Parcel Service (UPS) transport planes coming and going, rumbling over Louisville, headed to or taking off from the huge UPS worldwide distribution Center adjacent to the Louisville International Airport. Surrounding the airport is a tree-less and blistering hot landscape with hundreds of warehouses supporting businesses that rely on easy access to UPS.

What’s left. Mike Hayman photo.

And then there is the smaller historic Bowman Field, a barren 426 acres surrounded by the beautiful Olmsted firm-designed Seneca Park and adjacent neighborhoods with mature trees.

Few challenge Louisville International Airport, UPS or the many business distribution spinoffs. The presence of UPS has generated thousands of jobs, increased the local tax base and decreased Louisville’s tree canopy.

But Bowman Field, itself a charming landing site (and the setting for the eye-wonder of an historically preserved building) has had incremental increases in corporate jet traffic. Corporate jets are significantly louder and more polluting than the friendly biplanes that once comprised the majority of Bowman’s commerce.

Targeted pin oak on Taylorsville Road. Mike Hayman photo.

Here are the facts: Louisville International Airport and Bowman Field are hot, tree-less urban heat sources. Louisville already claims the title of “the country’s worst example of what meteorologists call the urban heat island effect.”

Property easements continue to be purchased and the Louisville Regional Airport Authority (LRAA) can do as they wish on land that they control.

No one wants to jeopardize air safety, but how will the Federal Aviation Agency and, especially the LRAA, mitigate the loss of trees?

Is it conscionable to cut down a mature pin oak and replace it with 6 small dogwoods?

Posted by

Allen Bush
on December 13, 2016 at 10:39 am, in the category Ministry of Controversy.


  1. In Toronto we have a few wonderful programs aimed at increasing the urban canopy, one of which is LEAF (Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests), a not-for-profit that provides a full-service backyard native tree planting program, among other things. I believe the organization was created by Janet McKay who began with planting trees for neighbours in her own neighbourhood.

  2. I’m so sorry to read this! It’s almost hard to imagine a time not so long ago when big trees were seen as our sacred grandfathers and grandmothers. They give us so much – oxygen, relief from heat, beauty, comfort. They, too are Life! The only thing to do, as Laura and A.J. have written, is to fight back and plant more. Lots more. I imagine it would take a hundred dogwoods to equal a pin oak. I wish you the best of luck as well.

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