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Tree fights back 

If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one there to hear, it's not nearly as worrisome as when a tree falls in Piedmont Park and injures 13 people.

Although officials with the City of Atlanta's Parks and Recreation Department reportedly couldn't find any more trees likely to fall after one crashed into tents and a golf cart at the Dogwood Festival April 8, tree experts say the park provides the perfect place for this kind of mishap to repeat itself.

Marcia Bansley, executive director of Trees Atlanta, explains that in Atlanta tree roots encounter airtight clay about three feet below the ground, so trees here aren't anchored by a massive tap root. Instead, they spread a broad network of roots across the surface of the ground. Consequently, in Piedmont Park where about 100,000 people go to play on any given sunny day, oxygen-seeking tree roots get trampled. Deprived of air, the roots dry up and the tree falls over. Without an ongoing maintenance program, she says, this could happen again.

Karl McCray, director of the city's department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, however, points out that the city has an ongoing program. In February, a company hired by the city identified 12 dangerous trees that were then removed. The tree that fell last weekend was not on the list.

Although it's not uncommon for trees in parks to fall, according to McCray this is the first such Atlanta accident with injuries in at least 27 years.

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