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I love trees. People consider the word “treehugger” a pejorative, but I don’t care — I am an unabashed treehugger.

Growing up in Shorewood, Wis., on Milwaukee’s East Side, we were treated to a wonderful canopy of Dutch elms. We also had a huge chestnut tree in our backyard. I spent many lazy hours as a boy reading and listening to music in a natural nook 10 feet up.

Unfortunately for Shorewood residents, the canopy was decimated by Dutch elm disease. Shorewood compounded the problem by replacing the downed trees with more Dutch elms, which eventually met the same fate.

In La Crosse, we’ve had a similar problem with a pest called the emerald ash borer, deadly to many beautiful ash trees throughout the city. Indeed, a walk down almost any street reveals ugly stumps from once flourishing ash trees.

However, the city’s Forestry Department avoided Shorewood’s problem by replacing the downed ashes with a variety of species — some ashes, yes, but also maples, birches, etc. This practice makes it highly unlikely that one pest or disease could infect them all, ensuring once more a spectacular canopy of trees down the road.

I look forward to that day when these ugly remnants of downed ashes are replaced with more diverse and hopefully more hardy trees, producing the awesome canopy I remember so fondly from my youth. I’ll even give them all a hug.

Stephen M. Gores, La Crosse

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