A couple of weeks back, the city acknowledged that a "renegade pruning operation" was responsible for hacking down trees in the Great Trinity Forest, kinda the last place you'd expect someone to go nuts with a chainsaw. Now, this: Friend of Unfair Park Bill Holston sends along an item posted last week to another Friend of Unfair Park's Dallas Trinity Trails blog in which our friend, Ben, shows and tells of trees bulldozed in the McCommas Bluff Reserve, the very definition of a hidden gem (unless, say, you're Bill, Ben or a member of the Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association).
Ben and I exchanged some emails, and based on some research he believes the trees were removed as a right-of-way project on behalf of Dallas Water Utilities -- specifically, he writes, "for some rock armoring project related to a water main that runs through that area." He also tells Unfair Park that the scene isn't nearly as gruesome as it was a week ago; now, he writes, the debris has been cleared, and instead it looks ... "neutered," which is bad enough. I've been trying all day to find someone at City Hall who can shed more light on the 'dozing; no luck so far. And, sure, this isn't as egregious as renegades with chainsaws; that's just the way utilities go. But Ben is decidedly bummed. He explains why on his blog, and again in his email:
Like I mentioned in my blog posting, I understand the need to keep utility right of ways clear. I also understand the need to build and maintain infrastructure. The problem I have is that a real historic gem has been changed for a lifetime. I can look at 100 year old photos of McCommas Bluff and see a couple of the trees that were removed. McCommas Bluff is really one of the only places on the Trinity River with a hard bottom and dramatic limestone cliffs.
The contractor left one sole remaining cedar tree standing at the site. It has the largest trunk, and maybe it was saved due to the size. Some of the other cedar trees had growth rings in the 80- to 125-year range. Couple of the oaks were 70-80 years old. Those trees managed to survive all the other construction there over the last century. Pretty disappointed that they did not make it through this latest round.
Incidentally, while you're over on Ben's blog, check out his tour of the Santa Fe Trestle. Highly recommended -- the tour and the trail.
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Update at 4:27 p.m.: Dallas Water Utilities assistant director Cesar Baptista tells Unfair Park that, yes, they are removing trees over there to replace a 72-inch water transmission line that provides water "to South Dallas all the way up to our sourcing pump station close to Duncanville and Cedar Hill. We coordinated with the city forester and identified the trees we could take out to facilitate the project. Unfortunately, it had to be done -- the bank has eroded to where it's putting that line in jeopardy."