Wilmington to replace some trees along Market St. due to disease

Wilmington to replace some trees along Market St. due to disease
Updated: Sep. 13, 2023 at 5:30 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Change is coming to the landscape of Wilmington along the Market Street corridor. It is not tradition that’s being uprooted, it is nearly 20 trees that have seen better days.

“Street trees are one of the most important aspects of a healthy, urban area and a healthy city,” said Sally Thigpen, Wilmington’s assistant director of community services. “Some of the things that they do for a city is they create oxygen; they sequester carbon. Urban trees are vital for sucking out pollutants and storm water, they’re just part of the infrastructure of a city that makes it a good place to live.”

The problem is time and disease. The city hopes to remove up to 18 trees on Market between 12th and 21st streets in the coming months.

“The overwhelming majority of the trees earmarked to come down are Laurel Oaks. These are mature trees that have been lining Market Street for 40 to 50 years, some reaching a circumference of 55,

“It’s really common in this species to see that decay column coming through,” said Thigpen. “The number one reason behind this project is safety.”

“I’m always against trees coming down,” said Connie Parker, president of the Alliance for Cape Fear Trees. “But we’re learning so much. Sometimes, trees need to come down.”

Once the trees are removed and the stumps ground out, replanting will happen. For every tree coming down, another one will be planted in it’s place. The difference this time: the same tree won’t be replanted over and over again.

“We don’t want to see the landscape caught up in widespread disease,” said Parker. “We want to get enough diversity in trees planted so that if something does happen, we’re not going to lose all the trees along the street.”

For a detailed description of the project and its projected timeline, click here.

“This is something we don’t take lightly,” said Thigpen. “The bigger the tree the more positive environmental impacts you’re going to get from it, so we’re going to fit the biggest tree that will fit in this space reasonably that will survive and be sustainable over time.”

A presentation to the Wilmington Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 14, at 5:30 pm.