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No matter where you live, everybody has something to deal with. In the Midwest it’s tornadoes. On the east coast it’s hurricanes. In the north it is bitter cold. Here in the mountains of Southern California it’s fire. (Well, earthquakes too, but who’s counting??)

Several factors have come together to create a frightening situation here. Decades of a “save everything in the forest no matter what” management policy plus a severe drought, plus an infestation of insects have resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of trees. We’re talking about 100-foot tall pine trees here, folks ... really huge trees with trunks that can be four or five feet in diameter and even bigger.

Imagine a quiet neighborhood, homes spread apart but not too far apart, with hundreds of giant, beautiful, green trees that provide shade and beauty. Now imagine all of those trees as dead or dying. Sure it’s ugly to look at, but there’s a bigger problem. Fire.

If a fire gets started, the dead trees will literally explode like bombs, and you can pretty much write off the neighborhood. Even if there is no fire, there is danger from them falling.

At first blush, it seems simple. Cut the dead trees down and haul them away. The ramifications and complications of that solution, though, are staggering. Here are just a few:

First, it can cost up to $1,000 to cut down each tree, and many homeowners can’t afford it. What about property owners whose primary residences are not in danger of fire and therefore have less incentive to act?

What do we do if they refuse to remove their dead trees? After all, fire won’t restrict itself to a specific property, so if their trees burn, our homes do too.

Who will pay for dead trees to be removed from public land? What do we do with the dead trees? Some are full of the very insects that killed them, and if we aren’t careful we can accidentally help them spread.

Property values are going to suffer when dead trees are removed. Or will it? Bare land may become more valuable since builders won’t have to clear the lots. Some properties may benefit from a new view of our lake that was formerly blocked by trees.

Logging trucks will clog the few highways that we have here, causing traffic delays and inconvenience.

Who is liable if a dead tree falls on a neighbor’s property? What if the dead tree is on the property line? Does it matter if the property owner knew it was dead before it fell?

The tremendous amount of work here has attracted a large number of tree professionals. But it has also attracted con artists and unlicensed people posing as tree professionals. A single giant tree can weigh many tons. Felling them in a crowded neighborhood is downright dangerous, so we have to be careful whom we hire.

Then there is the insurance aspect. An improperly licensed and/or insured tree feller can sue you if he gets hurt on your property. It’s not hard to imagine a scumbag misrepresenting himself as a licensed tree professional, then going after you when he gets hurt due to his own incompetence.

I have just scratched the surface, but there are two points to be made here. First of all, policies that seem like a good idea (protecting the forest no matter what) aren’t necessarily as good as they seem.

Ironically, protecting the forest has ultimately lead to its very demise. Overgrowth has resulted in trees that are highly stressed due to competition for sunlight and water. The stressed trees are now less able to fight off the insects with natural defenses.

Secondly, problems have a way of appearing much simpler than they really are. As soon as you address one aspect of a problem, the solution will often have its own set of issues.

There is a common thread here: ramifications!

What does this all have to do with stress? We typically want to solve our problems as quickly as we can in order to reduce our stress; if we aren’t careful, though, the ramifications of our solutions may cause new problems that are worse than the original problem we were trying to solve! Be sure you have played out the entire scenario before you implement a policy or a solution.

The stress you save may be your own.

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Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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