Trees in city being damaged through hammock use

There’s nothing like catching a few zzzz’s in a hammock that’s gently swayed back and forth by breezes from Lake Superior. Just ask the great many residents, visitors and Northern Michigan University students who, increasingly, are making the activity something of a leisure past time.

Harmless on its face, hammocking has become a fad of sorts in city parks and green spaces, anywhere that two, stout trees capable of supporting the weight, can be found. Problem is, it isn’t harmless. Those ropes that suspend the hammock between the trees are damaging the bark, which can cause the trees all kinds of problems.

“We’ve found the public is literally loving the trees in the park to death with their effort to enjoy them in this way,” Jon Swenson, director of Community Services for the city of Marquette, said for a Mining Journal story on the matter. “It’s kind of a bittersweet thing, I think we understand why the activity is attractive, it’s very peaceful and seems harmless, but ultimately, the infrastructure and the natural beauty of the parks would come to detriment if it were allowed to happen.”

Added Marquette City Police Chief Blake Rieboldt: “When hammocking first came on the scene and became popular … people obviously wanted to hammock in areas that were scenic and in doing so … were damaging trees.”

A city ordinance which prohibits damage to trees on public lands can be used to address the problem, which is principally focused at Presque Isle and Tourist parks. City officials would rather take a softer approach and address the issue through education and persuasion. Additionally, hammock stands can be rented for little money at Tourist Park.

We’d like to encourage anyone who uses a hammock in this way to kindly heed the city’s warning and stop. There are alternatives that can be rented or purchased.

The trees will thank you.