~Submitted by Molly Haskell
We can calculate how much total and annual carbon is sequestered in the trees along the Reformatory Branch Trail (RBT). Because of the carbon impact of clearing 4.34 acres of trees to build the Minuteman Bikeway Extension, I urge you to vote no on article 10 at Town Meeting on November 14/15th.
i-Tree Canopy analysis shows the 4.34 acres of trees sequester the CO2 equivalent of 55,441 miles of gasoline per year. Further, i-Tree Canopy determines the trees themselves hold the CO2 equivalent of 1,391,645 car miles.
i-Tree is “a state-of-the-art, peer-reviewed software suite from the USDA Forest Service that provides urban and rural forestry analysis and benefits assessment tools.”
To offset the annual carbon capture performed by the 4.34 acres, commuting cyclists would need to add 2,217 25-mile round trips annually. To offset the carbon currently sequestered in the 4.34 acres, 55,665.81 additional trips will be needed. We would need to attribute all these trips merely to paving 1.7 miles of the RBT.
Verify calculations and references here: https://savereformatorytrail.org/.
The RBT is used by commuters today. How many? There is no use study.
- When would new bicycle commuter usage offset the 1,391,645.36 miles’ worth of carbon currently sequestered in the 4.34 acres of trees?
- Would 1.7 miles of asphalt induce cyclists to commute 2,217 additional 25-mile trips each year?
- What is the barrier now on the RBT for any bicycle commuter to take even one more 25-mile ride?
- Does “getting just one car off the road justify all the trees” removed, as asserted publicly by members of the Select Board?
The area analyzed by i-Tree Canopy is a partial reckoning of the full tree removal for the Extension; we limit discussion here to carbon. i-Tree Canopy also generates data for the benefit trees provide for runoff prevention, and filtration of air and water pollutants.
Will asphalt provide any of these benefits?
Trees are only a small part of a carbon offset calculation, which was not done for the Extension. Other factors must be considered, such 1.7 miles of asphalt, and associated heat trap. We’ve all seen the Depot Park lots on weekends, packed with visitors who drive from points distant to use the Minuteman Bikeway for recreation. Their trips must be reckoned as a climate change accelerator.
How can this project be seen as a climate win?