D.C. Plans to Cut Down 140 Iconic Cherry Trees to Fix Seawall

Estimated read time 2 min read

About 140 of Washington D.C.’s iconic cherry trees will be removed to repair crumbling seawalls.

The National Park Service announced on Tuesday that it will cut down approximately 300 trees, including the 140 cherry trees, that line the tidal basin in West Potomac Park. There are approximately 3,800 cherry trees in the park, meaning that only three percent of the cherry trees will be affected by the construction.

The announcement comes just one week away from the National Cherry Blossom Festival, commemorating the original gift of the trees from Tokyo City Mayor Yukio Ozaki in 1912.

As spring temperatures begin to return to the Northeast, the delicate pink and white buds are expected to bloom in the next week. The festival will not be interrupted by construction, and the path around the tidal basin will remain open throughout the project, the press release said.

Sadly, Stumpy, a popular gnarled tree located next to the water, is a likely victim of the mass removal, NBC reports.

For construction to begin in May, 140 flowering trees will need to be removed between the Jefferson Memorial and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. About 455 trees, including 274 cherry trees, will be replanted upon the completion of the project, according to the press release.

The announcement comes as the Parks service plans a three-year $113 million project to repair and reinforce the walls of the tidal basin. The walls are over 100 years old, and worn from rising sea levels and poor drainage, which has led to sea water flowing over the tops in some places twice a day.

Without the construction, it is likely that the floods would continue, overwatering the gorgeous flowering trees, causing them to die.

Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to reflect that about 300 trees will be cut down, including 140 cherry trees.