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how do you feel about cedar trees?

 
Leah Sattler
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some like them for the privacy screens, windbreaks and the bird shelter aspects. but they are also villified as being somewhat invasive and taking over areas that they don't belong. what do you think?
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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It depends on what kind of cedar they are -- different trees are called 'cedar' in different parts of the country.  In the Pacific Northwest, we have Red Cedar and Alaska Yellow Cedar, which are both slow-growing valuable timber trees, highly desirable.  I don't think that's what you have, though!  Can give no advice on yours, except to see if they are useful for anything you want to use them for, and then go from there.

Kathleen
 
                    
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The Incense Cedar (so named because it smells so dang nice.  Also called Pencil Cedar.....for hopefully obvious reasons) we have here is actually a cyprus, and they're seedy seedy trees when mature.  I've walked through old logging roads that are mono-cultures of cedar trees, all about knee high.  At least it's a baby tree you don't have to feel bad about killing! 

The furrowed bark folds of mature adult Cedars is the original bat habitat around here.  We only have a few of those on my land, and this forty acres is some of the more gently logged area in these parts.  We have some bats, but I want more because the mosquitos are still way too abundant!  Oh we should make them some houses in february too.....it's turning out to be our "small, inside construction projects" month. 
 
tel jetson
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how about saltcedar?

In the Pacific Northwest, we have Red Cedar and Alaska Yellow Cedar, which are both slow-growing valuable timber trees, highly desirable.


the tree of life!  I'm also in Thuja territory and as I've seen them used in a lot of landscaping, they're fairly obnoxious: planted in a straight line and too close together on property lines.  don't get me wrong, they're beautiful and incredibly useful trees and it's hard to beat the smell of fresh cut red cedar.  I just prefer them in a forest instead of a yard.  they haven't been abused nearly as badly as rhododendrons and junipers by northwest landscapers, though.
 
Travis Philp
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They are everywhere in this area which I'm glad for. I'd rather have more diversity than just one main evergreen tree but at least theres something out there. I do plan to thin them and put some hardwoods in their place and I would like to transplant young cedar sapplings and use as windbreaks.
 
Scott Reil
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Common names can be deceitful; the west coast red cedar (Thuja) is not our east coast red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), which is really a juniper, and quite native, an excellent bird feeder (one of our best) and habitat plant. It's place in nature as a seral specialist (landscape repair) leads some to view it as "invasive", but as a native that is replaced by succession pretty readily, I think it's just prolific. I am interested to hear more about the west coast species and any invasive issues, but Dr. Dirr lists this as native from Alaska to Northern California to Montana, and the Plant Database supports that assertion. Use of native material (straight line rows or not) seems preferable to possible alternatives like hedge, non-native thujas or the like. Hate the gardener, not the plant...

HG
 
Travis Philp
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I sometimes forget to put scientific names, sorry. The cedar I was talking about is eastern white cedar or Thuja occidentalis
 
tel jetson
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red cedar out here is Thuja plicata (with butterfly stomata).  not a true cedar (Cedrus), but a lovely tree anyhow.  I'll gladly hate the amateur landscaper and love the tree.
 
Gwen Lynn
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Well, this one has been thru 2 ice storms in 2 years. It's holding up rather nicely!
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:
It depends on what kind of cedar they are -- different trees are called 'cedar' in different parts of the country.  In the Pacific Northwest, we have Red Cedar and Alaska Yellow Cedar, which are both slow-growing valuable timber trees, highly desirable.  I don't think that's what you have, though!  Can give no advice on yours, except to see if they are useful for anything you want to use them for, and then go from there.

Kathleen


We have exactly two ceder trees in our woodlot and we cherish them (one at least, the other one... I don't know if it's gonna make it. We hope in time we can cultivate more, it's a good habitat for them, seems like there was a lot more but got logged 40+ years ago and never recovered. We'll have to thin some lodgepole and grand fir to give young ceders any chance at all...
 
Walter Jeffries
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I like cedar. We have eastern white cedar growing in the wet areas of our property. They're the right plant for that location.

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
http://SugarMtnFarm.com
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Scott Reil wrote:
Common names can be deceitful; the west coast red cedar (Thuja) is not our east coast red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), which is really a juniper, and quite native, an excellent bird feeder (one of our best) and habitat plant. It's place in nature as a seral specialist (landscape repair) leads some to view it as "invasive", but as a native that is replaced by succession pretty readily, I think it's just prolific. I am interested to hear more about the west coast species and any invasive issues, but Dr. Dirr lists this as native from Alaska to Northern California to Montana, and the Plant Database supports that assertion. Use of native material (straight line rows or not) seems preferable to possible alternatives like hedge, non-native thujas or the like. Hate the gardener, not the plant...

HG


Old post, I know, but I just saw this.  The Western Red Cedar and the Alaska Yellow Cedar ARE native to the Pacific Northwest!!  I don't know anything about the Incense Cedar that Marina talked about, but neither of the two I was talking about are invasive.  They are highly desirable trees, and I've never seen any sign of them being invasive. 

Kathleen
 
Scott Reil
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Location: Colchester, CT
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Hey Kathleen,

I suspect the posters where concerned about overuse in the landscape; a type of invasivness we should be concerned about as well. Natural ecosystems control the numbers of any species through careful balances of predator and prey, which in the case of trees and shrubs, the predators are fungi, insects, and diseases (which we humans tend to attack with arsenals of chemistry best described by Rachel Carson as biocides).

Perhaps a gentle plea for diversity could take the place of decrying any particular plants. Plants are of themselves not evil or bad; it is the way we move and use them that makes them so. I am often concerned as I read  here about Russian olive and mustard and comfrey, that permies can fall into this same trap based on how useful a particular plant is, rather than the usual foil of how pretty it is. Invasive is invasive when applied to a non-native, but in the case of a native variety, it is simply Mother Nature placing Band-Aids (and telling us something about why if we look closely enough.) But we should never be careless with germ plasm; this is the worst pollution we can spread, as it is the only one that replicates itself...

"The one process now going on that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us."

E.O. Wilson
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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I am perhaps over-defensive when it comes to the cedar trees of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, as they are among my favorite trees!  My oldest daughter is named Cedar, if that tells you anything, LOL!  (I was a forestry student at Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka back in the seventies, and another student named their first daughter Willow -- long before the movie of the same name.  I also have a Juniper, my youngest DD.)

Kathleen
 
Storm V Spooner
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I know that many folks around here dislike the cedars because they are frontier trees, meaning that they come in to barren ground and begin to create habitat and soil, where the owner may want grasses or other trees. That said, I love them, because I have been able to use cedar snags (standing dead timber) as well as some fallen cedars to account for the bulk of the structure of my underground home. The remainder comes from snags of other species or downed trees of other species, such that I have not had to timber any live trees to build my home.

Just my two cents.
 
Scott Reil
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Hey I'm sold on the family already, Kathleen, my Red Cedar is a Juniper too  plus this is a useful bunch, with tick and flea suppressive oils, and pretty trees too. And if they do well setting up that successional soil, and starting that new ecosystem like Storm talks about, well that is just following the natural inclination of soil and ecosystems.

Even the prairie soil yearns to be old growth forest, but it is stymied by herds of churning hooves and lack of rainfall. All soil yearns to move to it's full fungal capacity, replacing the bacterial compost of ungulate manures and high nitrogen grass vegetation with the carbon intense soils of rotting trees. And how much richer the cycle when the tree decays so slowly as the cedars do...

paul stamets recently discovered an amazing vaccine in deep forest in the Northwest; seems extracts from a rare fungus control all the cowpoxes, so check anthrax off of the list of terrorist threats, thanks to those deep forest ecosystems, Storm... cool, right? And would your downer lumber be as right for construction if it wasn't cedar? Deciduous stuff just rots but cedar cures.

Guess it's clear I like the tree(s).

S
 
Storm V Spooner
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Scott,

All of the downed stuff I can find that is in good condition, I use for construction. There are lots of pines around here, but as you noted, that just rots away so is of little use. Fortunately hickory, Oak, Black Walnut, and others don't rot as quickly so I've recovered some of these for roof structure.

At the same time, by removing these cedar snag groves, I've been able to open up some dense forest areas, allowing in enough sunlight for various species of plants as well as wildlife.

Perhaps best of all to me anyway, is that if someday someone wants to tear down (is it "tear up" since the house is underground? ) my house, they can take the timbers and make lumber, thus giving a third life to the trees! I almost want to see those two foot wide cedar planks a much as I want the timber itself as posts for my home..
 
                                      
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Our Eastern Red Cedar (Missouri) is just about hated by everybody in my neighborhood because of the Cedar/Apple Fungus.  If you grow apple trees in the conventional way (factory orchard) you cannot have cedars around because of this fungus.  If, however, you grow with a diversity of species (food forest) intermediary trees buffer the apples and the fungus doesn't affect them so much.  The spore zone is important and buffer trees like cherry and mulberry really help. 

I have also found that if I attach a piece of plumber's tape (about four inches worth) to the top of the tree, the tree does not develop the fungus.  Plumber's tape is made primarily of lead, zinc and aluminum.  The rain causes the tape to slowly, ever so slowly, rust and the oxidized compound is slowly distributed over the central trunk and the top branches.  Because of the nature and shape of the tree, this same "rust" gets dusted all over the rest of the tree.  Result - just enough anti-fungal action to stop the Cedar/Apple fungus. 

By the way, this also accounts for why this particular fungus is never found infesting cedar house siding, even though it ought to be a suitable substrate.  I have put this to the test.  I've made thin sheets of cedar siding with our local red cedar and inoculated it with the fungus.  It grew very vigorously on the siding.  Then I added a window frame (aluminum, zinc, titanium, trace lead) and voila!  The fungus died and I could not get it to come back with further inoculation.  Just enough of the element rust finds its way into the wood to prevent fungal growth. 

I have not been able to detect any heavy metal depositing in the soil around the trees (or the house for that matter).  This is a good thing, because I don't want to contaminate my soil.

The visual break that our young cedars provide is truly beautiful.  Our oaks and hickories all lose their leaves in the fall and the scene become somewhat gloomy.  We really don't see much by way of greeting card snow here and the landscape can look pretty gray.  The cedars a bushy and green until they get about thirty feet tall.  Then they thin out at the bottom branches and become a little more open.  Before that time, however, if you trim and shear, an almost Christmas tree shape can be maintained for many years.  Our zone 1 is bordered in lovely trees and that's a good thing here where evergreens are rare.

Also, and this is important to me also, the cedar is the center of several guilds I have set up involving vibrunum and vaccinium species.  My blueberries languish everywhere else on the place except as part of a cedar guild.  The same goes for my huckleberries, lingonberries and serviceberries.  They'll all grow in other guilds, but not like they do in the cedar guilds.

 
Scott Reil
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Not to mention that there are few better habitat/feeder plants east of the Mississippi than Juniperus virginiana; more birds and wildlife use this one tree than about any other, short of the oaks (another story for another day).
 
                                      
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Right!  Not only that, I harvest the berries and find them useful for food and medicine.  To mediate the effects of diabetes on the kidneys I found these berries to be as effective as the Juniper Berries I used to harvest in the High Desert.

So, here's a tree that is a great example of function stacking.  It provides windscreen and visual block, green in winter, edible and medicinal berries, wild bird and poultry feed (sometimes in real abundance), guildmaster for blueberries, cranberries, lingonberries, huckleberries, and other shrubs that tolerate and thrive in a more acid soil, beautiful craft wood, essential oil for fragrance and woodstain base.  I have even used it as adhesive for some of my more traditional artwork.

Somehow because it is a pioneer species people associate it with weeds - the enemy. 
 
Brenda Groth
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occasionally we'll get a cedar growing where it wasn't intended, but they are fairly easy to uproot and even transplant so I wouldn't consider them invasive..or even really opportunitistic.

The red cedar is a very common plant in this area and I've never had to "weed" out any..I have one pretty large one in my front yard and our neighbor has a lot of them in his, we have several in our woods and some small seedlings in our field..(we are letting the field revert to forest)..

they make good fence posts..and as you say are great for wildlife forage and shelter
 
Jamie Jackson
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What a great post! 

Cloudpiler wrote:
Our Eastern Red Cedar (Missouri) is just about hated by everybody in my neighborhood because of the Cedar/Apple Fungus.  If you grow apple trees in the conventional way (factory orchard) you cannot have cedars around because of this fungus.  If, however, you grow with a diversity of species (food forest) intermediary trees buffer the apples and the fungus doesn't affect them so much.  The spore zone is important and buffer trees like cherry and mulberry really help. 

I have also found that if I attach a piece of plumber's tape (about four inches worth) to the top of the tree, the tree does not develop the fungus.  Plumber's tape is made primarily of lead, zinc and aluminum.  The rain causes the tape to slowly, ever so slowly, rust and the oxidized compound is slowly distributed over the central trunk and the top branches.  Because of the nature and shape of the tree, this same "rust" gets dusted all over the rest of the tree.  Result - just enough anti-fungal action to stop the Cedar/Apple fungus. 

By the way, this also accounts for why this particular fungus is never found infesting cedar house siding, even though it ought to be a suitable substrate.  I have put this to the test.  I've made thin sheets of cedar siding with our local red cedar and inoculated it with the fungus.  It grew very vigorously on the siding.  Then I added a window frame (aluminum, zinc, titanium, trace lead) and voila!  The fungus died and I could not get it to come back with further inoculation.  Just enough of the element rust finds its way into the wood to prevent fungal growth. 

I have not been able to detect any heavy metal depositing in the soil around the trees (or the house for that matter).  This is a good thing, because I don't want to contaminate my soil.

The visual break that our young cedars provide is truly beautiful.  Our oaks and hickories all lose their leaves in the fall and the scene become somewhat gloomy.  We really don't see much by way of greeting card snow here and the landscape can look pretty gray.  The cedars a bushy and green until they get about thirty feet tall.  Then they thin out at the bottom branches and become a little more open.  Before that time, however, if you trim and shear, an almost Christmas tree shape can be maintained for many years.  Our zone 1 is bordered in lovely trees and that's a good thing here where evergreens are rare.

Also, and this is important to me also, the cedar is the center of several guilds I have set up involving vibrunum and vaccinium species.  My blueberries languish everywhere else on the place except as part of a cedar guild.  The same goes for my huckleberries, lingonberries and serviceberries.  They'll all grow in other guilds, but not like they do in the cedar guilds.


 
Richard Kastanie
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I'm in Missouri too, with lots of red cedars (juniperus virginiana) around. Some varieties of apples are resistant to cedar-apple rust, and have no problem growing around cedars. Some varieties aren't worth growing here because they get the rust so bad, the rust starts out as tiny specks and then enlarges into rusty-orange areas, but others growing right nearby are resistant and only get the tiny specks that don't grow and fade later on. I have a couple of large Arkansas Blacks not too far from cedars and they're unaffected. I have several that I don't know the variety of (they were planted before I was here) that are very resistant too, including one growing not 30 feet from a redcedar. In a more open spot that's still within a couple hundred feet of many cedars, I have two each of Jonalicious and Enterprise, both of which I haven't seen listed as resistant but don't seem to have a problem, at least in that more open area. I have a few young apple trees that have been in the ground only a year from Hidden Springs Nursery in Tennesee (a source that's worked very well for me), all the varieiies they sell are resistant to cedar apple rust and fireblight.

The official reason given for so much cedar removal is that they're much more abundant than they used to be, mostly as a result of fire suppression. However, while I do believe changes in fire frequency is part of the issue, I see several other factors for their abundance. Others have mentioned they are a pioneer species, I see them in that role a lot but also some woods have cedars in the shade of larger oaks and hickories. They're said to be shade-intolerant, but I think in this climate there's enough time when it's warm enough to photosynthesize but the deciduous trees are not in leaf that they can take advantage of.

To me, the issue that's rarely mentioned around red cedars is that they grow better in poorer, degraded soils than most other trees. Since there has been so much soil degradation since the beginning of Euro-American settlement, of course cedars are more abundant than when the soil was richer overall and other trees could outcompete them on more sites. In fact, I wonder of the cedar builds soil better than other trees here on rocky slopes. I notice that in the Ozarks, often much of the leaf litter is absent from the steep slopes a few months after the leaves fall when it's still abundant on flatter sites. I've seen the reason why, that on windy days many of the oak and hickory leaves are blown off of slopes, so while some stays on the slope, much organic matter and fertility is blown elsewhere. However, cedar needles tend to stay in place more of the time, thus my theory is that cedars build more soil on steep slopes than oaks and hickories, although it's just based on my own observations. Hardwoods like dogwoods with faster decomposing leaves presumably also build more soil because more of the leaves break down before blowing away.

As a sidenote, I lived in Western North Carolina for a bit, and one thing that's always puzzled me is why the leaf litter in NC had much more of a tendency to mat together even on steed slopes and not as much blew away, compared to the ozarks, even when dealing withe the same species such as oaks and hickory. The leaves in NC tended to form a dense stable mat and deep humus layer, while many more of the ozark leaves crinkle up and catch the wind long after they fall.

While I'll say some cedar removal can be appropriate in certain situations depending on your goal for that land, I really am not in support of the demonization of cedar or any plant species in all circumstances without looking deeper into the issue and seeing what ecological change/disruption is behind it. Mistaking the symptom for the cause runs deep in American culture.

Something else contributiong to cedar demonization and many similar examples is the belief that it's possible to return our fragmented natural areas into replicas of 1491. While I am definitely in support of native species preservation, many of them need all the help they can get, 1491 was after all just a point in time, which included large herds of bison and elk, as well as American Indian management. 12,000 years ago, during the ice age, Southern Missouri was boreal forest like what's in Canada, completely different than the forest the first Euro-American settlers found. What those two ecologies had in common however, is that they were healthy and diverse, while today's ecosystems are much less so. Especially in this era of climate change, nature won't again look like it did in 1491, and we sould use measures like biodiversity and health of the soil, water, and other ecosystem processes. Using that model, cedar removal could be evaluated on a case by case basis and an increase in cedars wouldn't necessarily be considered "bad".

I just found again an article I stumbled upon a while ago, I guess the situation in Texas is even worse than in Missouri, with Austin-area officials claiming that their cedar (actually the Ashe Juniper, a close relative of the eastern Redcedar) is an exotic even though it's well established by historical and pollen records that it's native.

http://www.landsteward.net/mountain_cedar.html
 
Scott Reil
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Had this discussion with an instructor for the NOFA Certification classes, no less, where he referred to black locust (Robinia psuedoacacia) as an invasive...

While it has been pushed south by glaciation, and is returnng to this area in a fairly agressive way, the fact that it is in the fossil record, pollen and seed, makes an invasive categorization pretty shaky. Plus this is a nitrogen fixing tree, and we all know the value there... Paul has a cool video about them and there is this whole other thread here...

We have a tendency to bring our personal prejudices to bear in the assignations we place on plants, good, bad, weed, herb, garden plant, invasive, etc. When a plant shows use, aesthetic or herbal, and finds it's way without challenging the other plants around it, or making a uneven impact on the ecosystem it resides in, we should cut it some slack. When it is native, we might even give it a little more room to move. When the plant shows signs of impinging on its neighbors and imbalancing ecosystems, we should give it a wide berth, not matter how useful or pretty...

HG
 
Brenda Groth
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the eastern red cedars we have here are not necessarily invasive..they will send out some seedlings but not a lot of them and they are very easilyt pulled when young and won't regrow from the roots that might break off..

you can actually dig up the seedlings about a year old and transplant them too..which is nice.

i have a mature red cedar in my front yard I dug up and moved there and there are a bunch of seedlings in our field ditch by the road corner growing, but not an enormous number of them..we have lots in our woods..but they seem to pretty much stay there..the ones in the ditch are growing across from about a half dozen or so full grown adult ones..and are being encouraged
 
Mark Vander Meer
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Avoid planting cedars/ junipers near apple trees - look up apple rust.
 
gary gregory
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Mark Vander Meer wrote:
Avoid planting cedars/ junipers near apple trees - look up apple rust.


Quote from: Cloudpiler on November 30, 2010, 03:29:47 PM
Our Eastern Red Cedar (Missouri) is just about hated by everybody in my neighborhood because of the Cedar/Apple Fungus.  If you grow apple trees in the conventional way (factory orchard) you cannot have cedars around because of this fungus.  If, however, you grow with a diversity of species (food forest) intermediary trees buffer the apples and the fungus doesn't affect them so much.  The spore zone is important and buffer trees like cherry and mulberry really help.

I have also found that if I attach a piece of plumber's tape (about four inches worth) to the top of the tree, the tree does not develop the fungus.  Plumber's tape is made primarily of lead, zinc and aluminum.  The rain causes the tape to slowly, ever so slowly, rust and the oxidized compound is slowly distributed over the central trunk and the top branches.  Because of the nature and shape of the tree, this same "rust" gets dusted all over the rest of the tree.  Result - just enough anti-fungal action to stop the Cedar/Apple fungus.
 
Brenda Groth
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I am actually a bit sad today about decar trees....
the road trimming crew from the energy company "TOPPED" several ancient cedar trees just down the road from us..it is so sad and ugly looking.

I'm not sure if they'll live or die..

they were a full grown adult hedge of cedars across these people's property front yard along the road and there were a few where the power lines crossed..4 or 5 I think, they they cut them all off at about 15' high..it is soooooooooooooo ugly and soooooooo sad..brought a tear to my eye

a treehugger
 
Scott Reil
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Topping is against the arborist's code and you can lose your license in some states...

Still I think powerline licenses are granted leeways regular arborists don't get...

Still it is an abhorrent practice and should be avoided at all costs...
 


HG
 
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