A few tree-hugging Friends of Unfair Park sent word earlier today that someone from Park and Rec was out clearcutting trees in the Great Trinity Forest, which seemed a bit ... odd. Wrote one, the guy was using a chainsaw in Gateway Park to cut down Red Oaks, Possumhaw Hollies, Bur Oaks, Cedar Elms, Pecans and other varieties on the city's list of protected trees. "Ironic that the city doesn't follow its own rules," writes one Friend.
To which frequent KERA commenter Rawlins Gilliland added on his Facebook page: "The sad irony: Dallas is funding 'free trees' for residents to help get more people to plant trees, which add so much to the environment in so many ways. Many of these exact species the Parks guy was cutting down the city is supplying in a time of budget cutbacks no less. And in a heat wave to eliminate shade? In a drought to eliminate protection of the creek? In a time of air pollution to hack down trees that purify the air?" He noted that the resulting massacre left "this woodsy oasis a scorched-earth, shadeless barren creek bank ripe for erosion."
So I made some calls to Park and Rec, discovered that city forester Karen Woodard is out of town, and tried to find someone else to address the choppin'-down. At which point Willis Winters, Park and Rec's second-in-command, called Unfair Park to explain what he found out about the tree-trimming and then some. Lucky him.
Says Winters, the trail maintenance folks espied in that part of the forest "ongoing illicit activities in the park and in the woods." And so, in the course of today's routine privet removal and tree pruning, a city crew "took it upon themselves to remove privet and raise the tree canopy to increase visibility," Winter said. When I read to him the list of trees cut down, he said, "I hope that's not the case" and said "we'll try to get out there," but it probably won't be till week's end, at which point he'll provide an update.
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All of which serves as a reminder: The city's looking for citizen foresters.