Shel Silverstein's wildly popular children's book, The Giving Tree is a classic. Published in 1964, the book has been translated into numerous languages and has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Framed with simple, black-and-white illustrations, Silverstein's story still gets to me. I hadn't read the book for years and picked it up again fairly recently to read to my little one. Secret confession... I had to pause while I was reading the book to hide the dampness that was unexplainably appearing in the corners of my eyes. Find a free pdf of the book HERE.

Credit: City of Billings
Credit: City of Billings
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Dead trees are sad.

It's fun to drive by your childhood home and see the trees your family planted when you were a toddler are now towering pines, mighty oaks, or shady maples. It's not so fun if you go back and see them all dead or cut down. And even if a young boy doesn't grow up and cut down the tree to make a boat, nature eventually wins.

Credit: City of Billings
Credit: City of Billings
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A sick tree at Sacajawea Park was recently repurposed by the City.

A tall Ponderosa Pine at the city park had a rough go at life. When it was young, it was scarred by a lawnmower. In 2021, it got hit by a lightning strike which required a response from the Billings Fire Department to extinguish the smoldering trunk. Finally, pine bark beetles did what they do best, and killed the tree. City of Billings forestry workers cut the tree down in August.

Credit: City of Billings
Credit: City of Billings
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Instead of hauling it to the landfill, here's what happened next.

While it might have been easier to simply mulch the tree for compost or haul it to the dump, city workers realized the pine had numerous long, straight branches that could be repurposed at another Billings park. They used timbers from the tree to create anti-erosion devices on a popular trail.

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Credit: City of Billings
Credit: City of Billings
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"It felt good"

Timbers were cut to length and half-buried into the main trail at Phipps Park, using rebar to help anchor them in place. The trail has become quite eroded over the years. According to the news release, the city's seasonal forestry technician Jon Kohn said,

The crew agreed, it felt good to re-use Billings-grown wood to help maintain the beautiful natural area of Phipps Park.

I know, it's just a tree, but I'd like to believe the famous line from the book comes into play here. "And the tree was happy." The end.

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