The shade trees once adorning the street outside the Herberger Theater downtown have been removed, prompting barks and less-than-chipper messages on social media.

"[O]mg, horrible!" one person commented on an image of a series of tree stumps on Second Street near Monroe Street. "Crime against nature," another user wrote.

The trees were removed this week, but this street won't be treeless for long. The Downtown Phoenix Partnership is replacing the trees with a different species, one they say will eventually offer more shade and be better-suited for the urban environment.

"With a lot of the desert trees, they need a wide area to grow in and branches tend to be fragile," said Dan Klocke of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership. "When monsoons come into downtown, they frequently crack off big branches. They're really a hazard."

Several of the trees on Second Street were showing signs of decay and needed to be removed, he said.

Within the next week, the barren patches of dirt in the sidewalk will be replaced with a deciduous tree that can take a storm, doesn't need much water, but also provides a canopy of shade, Klocke said. The Partnership, a nonprofit organization funded by a tax on downtown property owners, is using either Red Push Pistaches or Sissoos.

"It's going to take a few years for these things to grow, but they're relatively quick-growing trees, so we expect a much fuller canopy in about three years."

The tree-replacement effort won't stop there. Klocke said the Partnership has already replaced 23 trees and plans to "aggressively replant downtown" over the next few years. The organization will replace the ill-suited trees on Second, Adams and Monroe streets first, and then branch out from there, he said.

The goal, ultimately, is to improve the business climate downtown.

"There are so many things to walk to now in downtown that we don’t want people to melt in between the different places," he said. "We need to create the conditions which make it much more walkable."

@azgreenday @herbergertheatr omg, horrible!— Savvy_Mom (@oSavvy_One) June 15, 2016
@azgreenday @meganrcassidy @herbergertheatr Crime against nature.— William Bond (@CorruptionWire) June 15, 2016

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