The Lafayette, Ind., City Council has proposed an ordinance to protect the city's outstanding trees, after a European beech tree was felled to put up a plastic sign.

That kind of decision to eliminate trees troubles Merrill Ridd, a geography professor at the University of Utah and director of the university's Center for Remote Sensing and Cartography. He has studied the impact of trees on Salt Lake City's environment."It's become such a habit for us to bulldoze things out of the way in spite of the cost to our other amenities," Ridd said. "There's no advocate for the trees. The economic forces rule against it."

According to a 1988 American Forestry Association study of 20 cities in the United States, the average city plants one tree for every four lost to disease or development.