04 Paul Bunyan and Babe Klamath CaliforniaPaul Bunyan is making a comeback right here in Fayetteville. Our very own City Council recently came out against big trees in favor of money from developers. In a remarkable display of fealty to contributions from our local developers lobby, the City Council cut the cost of chopping down big trees in half. Since 2011, something called the Uniform Development Ordinance, or UDO, has been a thorn in the wallet of our developers. To protect big trees, the original UDO charged developers $100 per caliper inch to cut down big trees. Under the new improved developer-friendly UDO, it will only cost $50 per caliper inch to cut down big trees.

To misquote Robert Frost’s poem about walls, “Something there is that doesn’t love a big tree in Fayetteville.” You may recall several years ago the City Council was seriously considering cutting down the trees on Hay Street because they were messy, dropping leaves in the fall and having roots that could mess up sidewalks. The current City Council voted 9-1 to cut the cost for cutting big trees, with Tisha Waddell the only one voting against the kissing of the tushies of our local Developers. Huzzah for Ms. Waddell.

Tree huggers will moan and wail about the new UDO’s war on trees, but money talks, and the oak trees will drop. Our City Council is more concerned with political contributions than stupid trees. Trees don’t vote or make political contributions. Let the trees eat cake. This leaves us with the eternal question of whether it is better to light the darkness or curse a candle. Can we make margaritas out of this pile of lemons from the City Council? I say yes. The trees must die! If our city is to be denuded of big dumb trees that interfere with profits, let’s make the most of it. A new city motto springs to mind: “Look Up Fayetteville, there are no trees to block your view.”

Fayetteville’s new emblem instead of the Market House could be Paul Bunyan, slayer of trees. Pictures of Paul on the side of PWC trucks would light up the eyes of the little children of our semi-verdant city. If you have forgotten your American legends, kindly pull up a chair to ponder old Paul. Paul Bunyan was a giant of a man who was a giant of a baby. When Paul was born, it took five giant storks to deliver Paul to his parents in Maine. Paul soon grew too big for his little town. He moved into the Midwest. During a terrible snowstorm — this was before climate change — Paul found a baby ox that had frozen from the blizzard. The ox had turned blue after being frozen solid. A lesser man would have left the ox to die, but not Paul. He took the ox to his camp, wrapped it in his sleeping bag, and warmed it up by his campfire. The ox survived but never lost his Carolina blue color. Paul named him Babe. Babe grew into a giant Blue Ox who helped Paul with his logging.

Paul and Babe worked in the snows of the Midwest, leaving giant footprints that filled up with water and became known as the land of 10,000 lakes. Paul cut all the trees in North and South Dakota, to the delight of the Dakota Developers Association. To get the logs from the Dakotas, Paul dug out the Missouri River to float the logs downstream. He dug Lake Superior to use to ice down logging roads to get his lumber to market. One day, Babe the Blue Ox slipped and turned over his water trough. The resulting flood created the Mississippi River. Paul and Babe were major dudes in the tree-chopping business.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Paul got into a tree-chopping contest with a fellow named Joe Muffaw, who was trying to convince loggers to buy steam-powered chain saws. Paul and Babe did their mightiest work creating a pile of lumber 240 feet tall. Muffaw and his steam-powered chain saw created a pile that was 240 feet and 1/4 inches tall, thereby defeating Paul. Paul and Babe, being despondent, moved to Alaska where they stopped cutting trees and lived in the forest. Paul and Babe are still up in Alaska. When they are wrestling each other they create the Aurora Borealis.

Where does that leave us in Fayetteville? Muffaw and his steam-powered chain saws have won the day with their newly mutated UDO tree ordinance. We can turn chopped down trees into something that will draw visitors to look up at our untree blocked skies. I suggest holding a Paul Bunyan Festival each spring with prizes to the developers who chop down the biggest trees. The developer with the largest tree fall will be awarded their very own City Council member for a year. Members of the City Council will attempt to catch trees as they fall. The Council member making the loudest splat under a falling tree will receive the Joyce Kilmer Developers Award.

Let us redo Mr. Kilmer’s poem “Trees” to reflect our new open-skies policy. “I think that I shall never see/ A developer as lovely as a tree/ A politician whose hungry mouth is pressed/ Against a developer’s sweet flowing wallet/ A developer who looks at profits all day/ And lifts political contributions to pay/ A developer who may in summer wear/ A nest of politicians in his hair/ Upon whose political lobby dollars have lain/ Who intimately lives without blame/ Poems are made by fools like me/ But only developers and politicians can kill a tree.”

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