Mark Levine, the Upper West Side Councilmember who'd like to open up North Brother Island to the public, would also like to assign personal (personal?) e-mail addresses to 200 trees in New York City. "This is not meant to serve as a maintenance hot-line so much as a mechanism for deepening public engagement with the trees," said Levine's spokesman Tyrone Stevens, closing the window for misinterpretation. Good Samaritans would, however, be encouraged to e-mail individual trees about their own "issues" (blight, rot, etc.).

"NYC is a tough place to be a tree," Levine told us this afternoon. "By giving each tree a unique e-mail address, it makes it really easy to report problems." Asked to name his own favorite tree, he balked. "It's like asking me to pick my favorite child!"

Levine didn't come up with this idea himself—Melbourne did it first. Here are some examples of e-mails that a human might send to a tree—that two Australians actually did send to trees—as reported by the Atlantic.

To: Golden Elm, Tree ID 1037148

21 May 2015

I'm so sorry you're going to die soon. It makes me sad when trucks damage your low hanging branches. Are you as tired of all this construction work as we are?

Maybe you wish you were a tree and are now a little better equipped to live out that fantasy?

To: Oak, Tree ID 1070546

11 February 2015

How y’all?

Just sayin how do.

My name is Quercus Alba. Y’all can call me Al. I’m about 350 years old and live on a small farm in N.E. Mississippi, USA. I’m about 80 feet tall, with a trunk girth of about 16 feet. I don't travel much (actually haven't moved since I was an acorn). I just stand around and provide a perch for local birds and squirrels.

Have good day,


There are about 5.2 million trees in NYC, 592,130 of which line city streets. According to Levine's bill as drafted, signage would be posted "on or near" 200 of them, displaying e-mail addresses prominently. The trees themselves would be selected based on a number of characteristics, like age, height, width, historic interest, "uncommonness."

Levine's office says they'll get back to us on the exact taxpayer burden of "tree-mail." For now, Stevens says the only cost would likely be the creation and installation of the tree signage; the emails will be checked by Parks Department employees, but will not replace 311 and will not require additional staff.