Some of Washington’s Iconic Cherry Trees Are About to Disappear

Around 140 cherry trees that form part of Washington’s iconic spring attraction will be chopped down this year to make way for the construction of new, taller sea walls to protect the area around the Jefferson Memorial.

The National Park Service, which is overseeing the project, said on Wednesday that it had tried to minimize the loss of the trees, which erupt each year in a burst of pink and white splendor that draws more than 1.5 million visitors. But the age of the existing barriers, rising sea levels and poor drainage forced its hand.

The current sea walls have sunk as much as five feet since their construction in the late 1800s and are no longer an effective bulwark against tidal waves and storm surges. Tides submerge parts of the walls twice a day, the Park Service said.

“Despite various repairs over the decades, the sea walls are no longer structurally sound and threaten visitor safety and the historic setting, including the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin,” the Park Service said in a statement.

The sea walls at the Tidal Basin have sunk as much as five feet.Credit…Kent Nishimura for The New York Times

Blossom lovers still have one chance to experience the blooms in their full glory. Construction will not start until late May, after the conclusion of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs from late March to mid-April.

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