CA’s Approach to Tree Removal

November 1, 2022

Tree work is a major component of maintaining the green spaces we cherish in Columbia. CA’s Open Space team is responsible for caring for trees and grass in the areas along and behind the pathways, which means everything from planting to pruning. 

No one likes to see a tree cut down, but the process of felling dead trees in our open space is essential to keeping that space safe for use. Timely tree work is especially important when you consider that 80% of our pathway network is used by children walking to and from school. We asked CA Landscape Manager Jan Clark, a certified arborist and 22-year veteran with CA, to share some of her expertise.  


Why tree removal is important 

All trees eventually die for a variety of reasons from age to disease to weather events. A dead or dying tree may be dangerous because it could fall in an area in use by people. 

That’s why CA’s foremen are out in our open space every day looking for trees that are dead or have structural issues and could overhang the pathways. Another way we learn about problem trees is when residents reach out with concerns. 

When our foremen find trees that are dead or that have significant structural defects, they contact CA’s tree contractors to remove or prune the tree, or address the issue themselves.

“We don’t do any more tree removal than we have to to reduce the risk to residents in our open space.” -Jan Clark

The hazards of dead ash trees 

You may have heard about the Emerald Ash Borer infestation, which has been a serious issue in the Northeast region in recent years. 

This invasive species quickly kills trees and has led to the necessary removal of hundreds of ash trees in open space. While some dying trees have hard wood that allows them to stand for a longer amount of time, ash trees are especially brittle and can break easily. 

“As an arborist, dead ash trees are of particular concern to me. They should always be removed swiftly to keep our open space safe,” Jan said. 


An example of necessary tree removal

CA’s team is currently gearing up for tree work near Jackson Pond. This is not part of any larger projects but rather an important safety measure to be taken for all of the people who enjoy that space. This work will include cutting down approximately 12 trees including dead ash trees and a beech tree damaged by a storm, and pruning dead limbs from other trees.

“In regards to the work along the pathway from Jackson Pond to High Tor Hill Road, there’s no question that is absolutely necessary work,” Jan said. 

CA expects this work to take place in November, and pathway access will be limited during this time.


Thank you to our neighbors 

We all love and cherish our open space, and we appreciate your efforts to help make sure that it’s safe for use. 

If you see damaged or dead open space trees, or something else that concerns you, please contact Open Space at 410-312-6330 or

“We appreciate residents keeping an eye out for trees with no green foliage in the growing season, or that are suddenly leaning more. Dead branches, cavities and fungal growths are other observable structural defects that may be clues to the structural integrity of a tree,” Jan said. “When you reach out to CA, our experts can evaluate the defects together with the tree’s growing environment to determine if and what action is warranted.”

We also welcome your participation in helping our Open Space team plant hundreds of trees every year! This is particularly a priority in the spring and fall season. To check the dates of our next group tree planting event, visit CA’s Events Calendar

Have an area you’d like to nominate for an upcoming tree planting? Email



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