Ask ELI: Why Did They Cut All Those Trees?

Tuesday, May 2, 2017, 5:33 am
Alice Dreger

Above: The area in question in August 2016 (left) and today (right).

East Lansing Info (ELi) runs a regular public-service featured called “Ask ELi to Investigate.” We take readers’ questions, de-identify them, and work to find out the answers. This is the latest in that series.

A reader wrote to ask: “Hi there, love the site (and am a supporter). I had a question for you. Last month (or so) someone did yet another clear cut along the Northern Tier bike trail on the south side of the drain that runs perpendicular to Abbott Road. Last year or the year before, they did the same thing along the north-south portion of the drain further along before you get to Lake Lansing Road. I was wondering who is behind the clear cut, and why they do it? I can understand cutting back on the small vegetation, but they also take out mature trees. Just curious as to why it happens, and to what the schedule is for it.”

The answer: Ron Lacasse, Infrastructure Administrator for the City of East Lansing, explains, “The work performed along the trail is part of an effort to clear trees and brush from open drains that catch debris and restrict the flow of water. The removal of the trees and brush is necessary to prevent surface flooding in the community.”

The ditch that runs along that area of the trail (across the street from the fire station and a little north) is meant to be an open drainage ditch leading to the storm sewers. Lacasse says, “Storm sewers draining the adjacent neighborhood areas were becoming substantially restricted due to the vegetation overgrowth and sediment buildup in the drains they outlet into. This was evident by the increased surface flooding behind the fire station on Abbot Road.”

The drain had not been appropriately maintained over the years, so clearing it now meant cutting down a lot of mature trees and a lot of brush. In Lacasse’s words, “the City has a 24-inch sanitary sewer that runs along the south side of the drain west of Abbot Road that we had effectively lost access to due to the heavy tree and brush overgrowth on top of it. The extra cleared width to the south of the drain was cleared to reestablish equipment access for sewer maintenance purposes.”

More work is coming in the area, according to Lacasse: “Now that the drain has been cleared, our Engineering Department will survey it and prepare plans and specifications for removal of sediment buildup from bottom. We expect this work to be completed in the fall once we have received a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality permit for the work.”

He adds, “This project follows similar work performed by the Ingham County Drain office over the past two years on the Sanderson Drain which drains from Gainsborough Drive on the south up past the Hawks Nest neighborhood to the north.”

Director of Public Works Scott House tells ELi, “This project was funded from the general fund as a City drain maintenance project.”


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