There are currently no laws prohibiting outdoor advertising companies from cutting down publicly owned trees just to make their billboards more visible. Trees and vegetation are planted along our highways for good reason; they protect adjacent neighborhoods and businesses from noise, dust, light, runoff, and other undesirable byproducts. Congress needs to stop putting the interests of billboard companies ahead of the welfare of the people by restoring protections to publicly owned trees.
Billboard companies can’t be trusted to use good judgement when it comes to vegetation removal. Just a few weeks ago, Lamar Advertising erroneously removed a number of mature, publicly owned buffer trees along Interstate 95 in Providence, RI, as part of an effort to clear up the roadway to make one single billboard more visible.
According to ecoRI News, Lamar officials state that the city gave verbal approval to trim and remove invasive species on the property, which sits on an embankment above the highway in an area of the city already lacking in tree coverage. However, the subcontractor hired to carry out the work instead removed nearly all of the vegetation in the area—including dozens of trees—an act that Lamar called “a miscommunication.”
Careless “miscommunications” like this shouldn’t be allowed to happen in the first place. Congress needs to take action to stop allowing billboard companies to kill trees and damage communities in order to protect their signs.