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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Quick Take: With construction looming, remember DC’s iconic cherry trees

Underdogs can get left out, picked last or feel a little weird — and some are chopped down. Meet Stumpy, a small, short, warped cherry blossom tree situated by the Tidal Basin.

An internet icon, Stumpy will be cut down after this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival as construction work to address rising water levels at the Tidal Basin commences. Stumpy may not be the strongest tree, but it’s a shame to lose it.

This may be Stumpy’s last hurrah, but it’s not just Stumpy: The National Park Service plans to chop down about 150 cherry trees and 300 trees in all. The low-level deforestation comes after rising water levels have weakened the flood walls of the Tidal Basin, which need to be replaced. The project, set to take place until 2027, is meant to combat the effects of climate change.

Ironically, the NPS’ plans to shore up the Tidal Basin’s trees will mean harming the area in the short-term — think the loss of habitat space for birds and insects or fewer plants for bees to pollinate. However, the agency has said it will plant more cherry trees as replacements as part of the project. And these trees are part of both local and international history: In 1910, Japan sent 2,000 blossoms to D.C. as a sign of diplomacy.

Stumpy may not survive a move, but it would be great if it and its fellow trees could avoid the wood chipper to be turned into mulch. D.C. is home to a number of places where the trees could be relocated, like the National Arboretum and the Botanic Gardens. Or, the trees could be the centerpiece of new parks or bring a splash of seasonal color to previously barren areas.

While not native to D.C., the cherry trees have become part of its ecosystem and its culture.

So, while Stumpy may not live to see next season, its memory — and its underdog story — should. Long live Stumpy!

Jenna Fox, a first-year majoring in political science and communication, is an opinions writer.

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