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BC-TN--NFL vs Trees,1st Ld-Writethru, TN

March 30, 2019
Nashville is planning to cut down 21 mature cherry trees to make space for a stage that will host NFL draft events. The Tennessean reports the trees are scheduled to be cut down on Monday, just ahead of the city’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The festival includes a walk along the tree-lined downtown riverfront on April 13. The 2019 NFL draft takes place in Nashville April 25-27.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville is planning to cut down 21 mature cherry trees to make space for a stage that will host NFL draft events.

The Tennessean reports the trees are scheduled to be cut down on Monday, just ahead of the city’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The festival includes a walk along the cherry tree-lined downtown riverfront on April 13. The 2019 NFL draft takes place in Nashville April 25-27.

To help make up for the destroyed trees, the NFL and the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. each plan to donate 100 cherry trees to Metro Parks. The existing trees will be turned into mulch for use at other parks.

Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. President and CEO Butch Spyridon said the new trees should be planted and blooming by spring of 2020.

“We know a beautiful city is vital to attract visitors, and we will continue to work with the city to make sure Nashville remains attractive,” Spyridon said.

Tracey Shafroth, an advocate for tree planting across the city, said it will take many years for the new trees to grow back to the level of the ones that are removed.

“We don’t plant trees for ourselves, we plant them for our grandchildren,” Shafroth said. “They take a long time to grow, and their benefits grow as they grow.”

Nashville Tree Foundation Board President Noni Nielsen called the removal “incredibly short-sighted” for a one-time event that will last only a few days.

According to city officials, Mayor David Briley’s office discussed removing the trees with Metro Parks Horticulturist Randall Lance after learning that the size of the NFL draft stage and other structures would require it.

Lance planted the majority of the trees a number of years ago. He said some of the trees in the area are dead or compromised and should be replaced. The city will use this as an opportunity to restore the soil and replant new, healthy trees.

In addition to the 21 trees being removed for the draft preparations, Metro will replace at least five trees that are dead, diseased or damaged.

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Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com