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Seuss-inspired story tells Texans to ‘speak for the trees’

August 2, 2017

KXAN Austin
By Wes Rapaport
Watch the story here

AUSTIN — Tree activists of all ages joined forces at the Texas State Capitol to save the trees, with the help of lawmakers and Dr. Seuss.

Rep. Carol Alvarado, D- Houston, and Rep. Wayne Faircloth, R-Galveston, read The Lorax to constituents under the shade of a historic oak on the Capitol Grounds on Wednesday.

The book details the struggles of the environment, targeted by corporate greed. The Lorax character speaks on behalf of the trees.

The bipartisan reading aimed to “stand in opposition to current anti-tree legislation,” including House Bill 70, organizers said.

“These bills would wipe out these protections and let developers and others just wipe out trees all over Texas,” Andrew Dobbs, legislative director for Texas Campaign for the Environment said. “This is something we’ve got to stop.”

“There’s some very powerful lobbies that want to be able to cut down trees wherever they want, whenever they want, for whatever reason they want, and local governments have decided that in terms of protecting property owners from floods, from erosion, to be able to protect us from high energy costs, we have established local ordinances to protect trees and to regulate how they’re managed,” Dobbs said.

“The Senate bill I think is very overreaching, and has a lot of preemption in it, and won’t stand tall,” Alvarado told reporters. “We already passed the tree bill, and this is what everybody has agreed to, and this is what should be the law, and we hope that Governor Abbott signs it.”

“We just feel like the people that live and work and invest their time and their talent, raise their family there, that they know best how to order their own lives and what’s important to them, and they have their priorities,” Faircloth stated. “We have public elections for local representation, and as she has said, we’ve passed a common-sense bill that was agreed upon by the members of the House. We’re not sure what the Senate will do or how it will play out, but I think what we found is the best alternative to solve this issue.”

Others advocate local control over tree ordinances violate the property rights of landowners.

Sen. Donna Campbell, R- New Braunfels, requested an opinion from the Texas Attorney General over the issue, saying the legislature “must ensure that city bureaucrats and central planners are not infringing on local citizens’ liberty.”

“City tree ordinances are some of the most egregious examples of property rights violations in our state, affecting millions of property owners in Texas,” Campbell said in a news release on June 12.

After listening to The Lorax, participants of Wednesday’s reading delivered copies of the book to several lawmakers, urging them to vote against legislation they say would threaten Texas trees.

It’s important to protect the trees and so we can breathe,” said elementary-schooler Elizabeth Luck. “I’m happy that trees are here and that we can keep the trees safe.”

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