A petition circulating online is asking the province to reverse course on its decision to remove trees lining a private property at the site of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

Beth Bautz, a Humboldt resident and a close friend of the family that owns the property at the southeast corner of Highways 35 and 335, started the petition Feb. 24.

“The number one reason why is because they’re my friends and they need to get some help and support,” Bautz said.

“The other is because I don’t feel it’s necessary to remove the trees and to cause more pain for this family.”

Bautz said her friend was at home April 6 when the Humboldt Broncos team bus collided with a semi, killing 16 people and injuring 13 others.

“He was one of the very first people on the scene and he helped until late, late at night with everything, and he’s suffered from PTSD because of it,” she said.

Following the fatal collision, the Ministry of Highways hired an engineering firm to analyze the intersection and offer recommendations to make it safer. In December the firm made 13 recommendations, including adding better signage, rumble strips and removing the trees to provide better sightlines.

Ian Boxall, the reeve for the RM of Connaught spoke with CTV News following the recommendations. He said he supported all of them except removing the trees.

“A shelter belt in rural Saskatchewan for acreage owners and farmyards is an important part to protect the yard from the elements – wind and blowing snow,” said Boxall.

“I think as long as they’re not infringing on the road allowance, I think that’s a big ask.”

Removing the trees would also cause more emotional and mental problems for the young family, who wishes to keep their names private, said Bautz.

“If you remove all these trees they are going to be in the public eye again, and they are going to see that crash site from every window of their house,” she said.

“For somebody who’s dealing with mental health issues from this accident, why can’t we step up and help them?”

In December, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Highways said it would be working with the family to remove the trees, but Bautz fears the move could set a precedent in the province.

“This is about also all of Saskatchewan — all major intersections at highways,” she said.

“This is just the beginning of a lot of trees and homes being affected by this. I think about all the homesteads and business that are surrounded by trees or have a tree-lined property.”

Bautz estimated she had around 600 signatures so far.