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Endangerment, to Wine Barrel

At any time of the year, numerous huge tree removal rigs with largely Latino crews can be observed in the vast suburbs that emerged from the post 1920 building boom surrounding New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The houses are almost exclusively pleasant wood or brick two-storied villas of similar design. It was the practice at the time to plant mainly American Oaks, and they are now mainly in their dotage at around one hundred odd years, and up to 50 metes high - hanging omminously over their potential next storm victim - either brick or wood.

They number in the hundreds of thousands, and provide wonderful work and income as their removal becomes unavoidable after years of providing summer shade and scenic charm to the otherwise sleepy suburbs. The absolute athletic bravado exhibited by the highly valued high-wire experts that accompany each gang, and who appear to perform no other role than wielding chainsaws on pulleys at great heights is breathtaking in the extreme. I doubt that it would pass muster with any Health & Safety convention in our country - insurance must be horrendous. The branches are lowered by a network of pulleys to the gaping maw of the oversized muncher parked in the road or driveway that appears to devour almost all but the huge stumps.

The tray of an extremely large truck will carry three or so clearwood logs that are destined for mills in Kentucky and elsewhere in the South where they are processed into lumber, ending up mainly as highly prized whisky and wine barrel staves. It is an unexpected suburban industry that thrives year on year as the trees reach the inevitable end of their useful life, and removal is mandated either by local authority, or home insurance companies. 

Unsurprisingly, there is not a great deal of evidence amongst the re-planting of similar species being used. Anxious homeowners shudder at the $6 - 8,000 cost of removal of each tree - something that is accomplished, albeit with a gang of eight and several hundred thousand invested in the removal assets, in a matter of some two hours - done and dusted!. I am informed that a great number of off-duty firemen are involved in the industry - again hardly surprising, I suppose. 

We may have have similar operations in New Zealand, but I have never seen anything on this scale. 




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