Who cut down the trees along the South Creek Trail — and why? (Photo by Steve Pokin)

For months, I’ve noticed that trees were cleared along the South Creek Trail and wondered why.

I’ve run this trail often — mostly on Saturdays — since I moved to Springfield 10 years ago.

The now-treeless path — which remains unpaved — is about 120 yards long and some 20 yards wide. The new path provides a sort-of shortcut that connects one part of the existing trail to another part of the existing trail.

This area is at the 3.8 mile marker on the trail. The South Creek trailhead is at Sunset Street and National Avenue and the trail is marked on the pavement in one-tenth-of-a-mile increments.

The former School of Professional Psychology at Forest Institute, which closed in 2015, is just to the south. The land and buildings are now owned by Burrell Behavioral Health.

I called Jenny Fillmer Edwards, spokeswoman for the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, and she sent me to Kristen Milam, who works for the city.

Milam says the trees were removed because the city needs to maintain and service a sewer line that is underground there.

It’s a major 60-inch sewer line that goes straight to the city’s treatment plant, says Mike DeLong, the city’s superintendent of the wastewater collection system. The line serves many households on the west side of the city.

“We do not take out a tree unless we absolutely have to,” he tells me.

The city had to take out several trees, in this case, as a maintenance measure, he says.

The trees had to be removed for two main reasons.

First, to prevent roots from growing into and clogging the sewer line and, second, to provide quick access to the line should something go wrong, he says.

Now, with the trees gone, he says, the city will be able to send a video camera into the line to survey its internal condition.

This is Pokin Around column No. 26.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at spokin@sgfcitizen.org. His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin