WSAZ Investigates | The danger above

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ)- The Appalachian region is a melting pot of trees. From above they cover our landscape in a mosaic of colors and species. However, an area covered in trees comes with danger to properties and lives.

WSAZ traveled with tree expert and business owner Ann Clay for days looking into local parks and trees that may be a hazard to the area.

In Huntington we traveled to Ritter Park where Clay saw minimal issues. She only pointed out one dead branch hanging in a tree she says could be a hazard in severe winds, but no pressing danger was at hand.

Ritter Park is historically known to have massive trees. Only a short year ago, one tree split nearly falling on a children’s fall festival. Thankfully no children were around or hurt in that situation. Another tree on the opposite side of the park fell onto a swing set. That piece of equipment has yet to be replaced.

The city of Huntington says they have a group of volunteers whose purpose is to go out and look into dying or hazardous trees and from there contact the Parks and Recreation department to advise removal.

In Burlington, Ohio, our findings were more troubling but out of the cities control. While no trees were hazards in the park, outside a tree sat on private property dying and hanging over the park -- a reality for many public areas.

In Ashland’s Central Park there have been uncontrolled dangers in the past. In 2017 a tree fell onto a bench, injuring two people shortly after a wind storm. The park is now known to close if severe storms are expected.

Clay says in her business she works closely with many of the parks department and says trees are normally well maintained with city crews who jump on problems fast. But at home she says many don’t have the same luxury.

“People don’t want to spent their hard earned money on trees,” Clay said.

WSAZ has repeatedly responded to trees on homes over the years. Ann says this reason is because most are not able to afford removing a tree.

“It happens a lot.” Clay said. “However, it is very expensive to run a crew.”

Clay tells us, on average, it can cost from $200 to $5,000 to remove a hazardous tree. She says the cost stems from the equipment needed for the job and the dangers that are included in the work.

She says it is common to quote a job and the homeowner can simply not afford the service – a problem that is very common in poor and rural parts of the Tri-State.

Clay advises anyone who is considering removing a tree to either be trained or call professionals.