Lewes trees have immense value
At a recent presentation by representatives of the Highland Heights major development, one of the presenters stated that "there no valuable trees" in the woods between W. 4th Street and Seagull Drive. We have to assume that he was referring to the lack of valuable hardwood that can be turned into fine furniture and paneling.
In one day a single tree can absorb 100 gallons of water and discharge it as cool air; that's 36,500 gallons per year. One acre of pavement generates the same amount of annual runoff as 36 acres of forest. Trees filter and regulate the flow of rainfall, in large part due to their leafy canopy that intercepts rain, slowing its fall to the ground and forest floor, slowing runoff.
This filtering talent that all trees possess is important here because the storm water from this area flows into Canary Creek, then to the Lewes/Rehoboth Canal and then to the bay, helping to keep our waters clean.
An article in the Delaware's News Journal titled "Delaware's dirty water" states that, "It will take years and hundreds of millions of dollars to fix the damage already done."
For decades after the passage of the Clean Water Act, much of the nation, especially the long-settled industrial Northeast, is still struggling to restore its waterways to "fishable and swimmable " status
Delaware officials made an effort by barring development in narrow buffer strips around the bays and streams that feed into the bay. However, Sussex County and local developers had the state rules struck down in court, pointing out that land use is a county power.
Trees that thrive in wetlands are shallow rooted. Developing a wetland requires tons of fill dirt which kills any trees left standing and destroys the wetland before anything is built on it.
Building on a wetland can be hazardous to your house, and you will most likely be fighting water forever, in the form of cracked foundations and walls, wet crawl spaces and basements, mold and sink holes. Wetlands are superb at purifying polluted water, replenishing aquifers and harboring wildlife, but are almost always terrible places to build a house.
Often overlooked is aesthetics, wetlands offer people a sense of both beauty and well being. It is comforting to spend time in natural areas.
We don't want to make furniture or paneling with these trees. We want to mitigate storm water, keep our air cooler, our water cleaner, provide shade, make this habitat safe for animals, and keep Lewes the delightful community that it is. These trees have no value? I think not.
The State of Delaware requires a Lewes Comprehensive Plan every 10 years, costing the taxpayers thousands of dollars, and yet, the last plan, released seven years ago, clearly states that these last remaining woods and wetlands should be preserved because destroying them would negatively impact our city. Plans for developing both of these areas are waiting for approval by city governance.
The Highland Heights and the Point Farm developments should have been rejected without consideration. It is sad that they were not. But is not too late. They should both be rejected as quickly as possible.