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“Not only is tapping street and park trees illegal, but doing so causes damage, leaving trees susceptible to insects and diseases,” the city said in a newsletter.
Fresh maple syrup is the perfect pancake topping, but the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is reminding its residents that harvesting it from trees on public property is illegal.
“Tapping public trees in Ann Arbor has, unfortunately, become somewhat commonplace,” the city lamented in its May 1 newsletter. “Not only is tapping street and park trees illegal, but doing so causes damage, leaving trees susceptible to insects and diseases.”
Tree tapping involves drilling a small hole into a tree—typically a maple—and inserting a spout to capture sap. Public trees in Ann Arbor have been off limits to tappers since at least 2010, when a city forester told the Ann Arbor News that tree tapping, when done improperly, could place stress on an already-weakened population of sugar maples.
“That includes people putting in too many taps or introducing openings for viruses or pests that might harm the tree,” the paper reported. “Although a special permit is theoretically available for anyone wanting to do something with city trees, I was told that no permits would be approved for tapping. She also mentioned concern that a passerby might intentionally contaminate buckets left on trees.”
But Ann Arbor’s syrup enthusiasts would not be deterred, and the practice has since regained popularity there. City crews will remove any taps they encounter, and any tappers on the scene of the crime “could possibly face fines,” the newsletter said.
Not that the city is heartless, or unaware of the sweet siren call of fresh syrup.
“Residents are free to tap their own trees,” the newsletter continues. “And, with permission of course, trees on other private property.”
Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.