‘Deeply rooted in history’ — Lehi residents try to stop removal of hundred-year-old trees

LEHI, Utah – A row of hundred-year-old trees marked for removal could stand to see many more years, thanks to a grassroots petition that has caught the attention of city leaders.

Nestled in the corner of a small neighborhood off of 400 North and 100 West in Lehi, you will find a small sentiment with a huge meaning.

“I know it’s a cheesy little petition, but you know what it’s important — keeping just a little place that we can keep and say this is how it used to be,” said Roena Gammon, a self-proclaimed tree saver.

“They need a lot of care, they’re old — but so am I, I’m not dead,” Gammon joked.

On Roena’s property line, you find two things. A row of hundred-year-old trees that have been marked for removal by red ribbons, and a small table with a few pens, a piece of paper and a sign which reads ‘Please sign petition to save the trees!’

“I’m going to feel terrible if [the trees] go and I haven’t tried, so I’m trying, I’m going to try my best,” Gammon said explaining why she started the small grassroots petition.

In a matter of days, the quiet corner where the petition table sits has seen a lot of attention. Already, Roena said more than 200 people have signed their names.

“We don’t want them to be taken down,” said Susan Bezzant who signed the petition after driving around the area to find it.

“I’m from Lehi, I live in Lehi and they are a part of the history,” Bezzant continued.

For residents like Bezzant, the trees hold a larger meaning.

“We’re losing our small-town feel,” said Bezzant.

“A lot of the historic things are already disappearing in town,” said her mother, Ione Bezzant as they stood in front of the table.

“They are beautiful trees,” Ione Bezzant said. “To me, they don’t have to tear them down.”

The row of marked giants stands in the way of a prospective sidewalk.

“We applied for a grant to put the sidewalk in where these trees are located,” said Cameron Boyle, Lehi assistant city administrator.

The $270,000 ‘Safe Routes to School Grant,’ was awarded by the state of Utah. Cities can apply for the grant to receive funding for sidewalks in areas where children frequently walk to school.

However, when the application is made, the city needed to put an exact location. If they try to move the location, they’ll lose the cash.

“I want them to be safe, I’m just saying let’s think about it because once we make a decision like this it’s gone forever, we’ll never get it back,” Gammon said. “We can always put a sidewalk in, but we can’t get that back and we can’t get that heritage back it belongs to us, all of us."

Now as more signatures and concerns come to light, Lehi is starting to listen.

“We want to make sure that our residents understand that we hear their concerns,” said Boyle. “These trees are a part of history and as the city is growing at such a rapid pace, the residents want to hold onto as much of that history as they can.”

“We’ll look at all options and see what we can do to provide the best alternative for the residents and for the city,” Boyle continued.

The city had an arborist inspect the trees Wednesday. Boyle said it could take a few weeks, but once they receive their report the city will be able to make a plan that hopefully keeps the trees.

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