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'It's looking pretty good' | 100-year-old willow oak tree saved, another torn down as construction begins in Charlotte neighborhood

Local advocates want to bring awareness to the city's tree loss from new construction.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Krysten Reilly and her husband founded NoDa Tree Save to try and save some of Charlotte's characteristic tree canopies but also understand the city's growth.

"I don't think anybody's surprised it's happening," Reilly said. "This neighborhood is growing and a lot of people want to live here and that's great."

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Reilly, who moved to NoDa about a year ago, told WCNC's Jane Monreal, she learned about the new apartment project planned on East 36th Street near Alexander and wondered what would happen to the 100 year old willow oak tree giving them a great canopy.

"We actively worked with Urban Forestry and with the developers here and also, with our board in the neighborhood, to put together a comprehensive plan, to put in the safety measures that were necessary to save the tree," Reilly said. "As far as we can tell, it's looking pretty good for that tree. So we're feeling pretty positive about it."

Reilly said an even older willow oak tree on the same lot did not have the same fate after an arborist conducted an investigation.

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"It had severe decay. And so it was deemed an unsafe tree to keep up, unfortunately," Reilly said. "I think the positive things to keep in mind though from that, is that because the neighborhood used their voices to save that tree in the beginning, the developers have their plans set. So they are keeping a space for retaining the tree canopy. So while that tree, unfortunately, had to be taken down, it will be replaced with very significant trees."

Reilly said the mission of her and her husband's passion project, is to bring awareness to the benefits of trees in the hopes developers make wise decisions about keeping the larger urban trees.

"What we'd like to see is development work with nature and not against it," Reilly said. "Trees do so much for our community and a lot of times they kind of stand in the background a little bit and we don't always fully appreciate the trees until they're gone."

The Urban Institute at UNC Charlotte said a tree canopy study was last done in 2018 showing tree canopies went down from 49 to 45 percent from 2012 to 2018. It said the city is planning to do another canopy study soon.

Contact Jane Monreal at jmonreal@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

WCNC Charlotte is part of seven major media companies and other local institutions producing I Can’t Afford to Live Here, a collaborative reporting project focused on solutions to the affordable housing crisis in Charlotte. It is a project of the Charlotte Journalism Collaborative, which is supported by the Local Media Project, an initiative launched by the Solutions Journalism Network with support from the Knight Foundation to strengthen and reinvigorate local media ecosystems. See all of our reporting at charlottejournalism.org.

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