Outrage Over Tree Cutting at Glen Cove Preserves

County crews halted after cutting down dozens of trees at Welwyn Preserve, more at Garvies Point; Garvies Point closed Wednesday with crews inside.

Residents and local environmental groups are up in arms over the cutting of dozens of trees at Glen Cove's nature preserves by Nassau County crews, reportedly for safety reasons following Hurricane Sandy.

"It's incredible," said Kathrine Natale, a board member at the North Shore Audobon Society. She visited Garvies Point Museum & Preserve with Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton as crews set to work there Friday.

"They're overzealous," Natale said. The work was halted, she said, but permanent damage has been done. "We stopped them, but they still cut trees on the bluff where no one walks."

DeRiggi-Whitton's office reported that 143 trees were cut down at Welwyn Preserve last week. Many of them were live and posed no danger to walkers, according to testimony from witnesses who saw the work and its aftermath.

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Mistakes appear to have been made in who was sent to do the cutting and how trees were identified as dangerous. DeRiggi-Whitton said she was told that each crew was led by an arborist selecting dangerous dead trees, but that the claim doesn't jive with what she heard from people who saw the cutting happen.

"Testimony from many people on the ground at both Glen Cove locations suggested that there was not correct supervision and crews seemed to be carelessly damaging precious preserve area without a clear purpose," said a statement from her office.

Michael Martino, a spokesman for the County, explained the County's process in an email: "In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, trees are assessed and if they meet certain criteria, such as 50 percent damage, a split trunk or broken branches that expose heartwood or has fallen or been uprooted within a public use area or is leaning at an angle greater than 30 degrees it is on the interest of public safety to remove the tree. Crews, contracted with the County and approved by the County Legislature, are paid hourly and the expense is reimbursed by FEMA.  In the Spring, the County will seek to plant new trees throughout Nassau." 

DeRiggi-Whitton's office said she raised her concerns at the Nassau County Legislature's committee sessions Monday, where a Parks and Recreation head said "the wrong crew had been sent to Welwyn for several days and was ultimately removed," her office said. 

Martino said that information was "not accurate."

The legislator questioned why the locations were made a priority over more public areas.

"It is terrible that while tree limbs are still hanging on wires right out on Glen Cove Road, crews were being set loose in protected natural areas and doing permanent damage,” DeRiggi-Whitton said in a statement.

Natale, who served as supervisor at Garvies Point for 39 years, said the Garvies Point Museum staff arrived Wednesday morning to find a new lock on the gate and a County representative there who explained that the preserve was closed while crews inside cleared trails.

Natale said the closure seemed to come only after she was seen by the workers talking to an NBC News television crew at the preserve Tuesday. She said the workers called police, who responded and said visitors were allowed as long as the park was open.

The County said Wednesday that the park was closed "for the safety of any park visitors as trees were assessed and/or removed if necessary."

She said a group from Huntington's Flower Hill School had outdoor programs scheduled for Wednesday.

"They're furious," she said.

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Wade Curry December 05, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Thats just pure negligence and incompetence....
Eileen Coles December 05, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Given the deceit involved, there's obviously as much malice at work here as there is stupidity. Classic GOP move - send in out-of-state "carpetbaggers" for FEMA boondoggle cash and to possibly harvest some free lumber. Mayor Suozzi and Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton (and ultimately the City residents) were both told the same lies by County personnel. Whether it's monkeying with our water, our sewers, our bus service or our natural resources, Ed Mangano NEVER passes up an opportunity to mess over the City of Glen Cove!
tj December 05, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Morons.....there is huge money coming to the county crews in over time,,,,out of state crews will get a boat load from fema....these guys will find trees to cut from Sandy 2 years from now.......everything is negligence these days....
Ed Pekarek December 06, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Why wasn't Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County consulted? They have trained Urban Forestry personnel and access to Cornell University research.
Eileen Coles December 06, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Because this wasn't about caring for the community or the land. This was about greed and cruelty, period.
Gary Schmitt December 06, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Maybe the county plans to sell the preserve to developers and the trees need to be removed to make room for condos, such as those beautiful ones being built on the creekbed, as one heads to the new ferry terminal.
Andrew foster December 06, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Tree huggers be damned. Where we're they when paths thru wellwyn were blocked because of downed trees. Certainly not there with their chain saws trying to help.
Matt Grabowski December 06, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Welwyn is a nature preserve. You shouldn't alter it so it's more "convenient" for walkers. When you start changing everything, there's no more natural beauty to see.
Lois Lindberg December 06, 2012 at 10:10 PM
This is not an isolated incident in Glen Cove, The same destruction is being done under the guise of safety in most of the other County preserves - Muttontown, Stillwell Woods, Massapequa Preserves...Trail clearing of downed or dangerous trees is certainly legitimate, but this has gone far beyond what is necessary. It's NOT ok just because it's being paid by FEMA.
Roy Biggins December 06, 2012 at 10:36 PM
That's not how it works.
Sean McCalmont December 07, 2012 at 06:09 PM
I would have helped.
Sean McCalmont December 07, 2012 at 06:09 PM
This is disgusting.
Eishen Wilson December 07, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Just let nature work, it doesn't need any help.
tj December 16, 2012 at 03:02 PM
and i wonder if there is money selling a piece of tree like that??
GlenCoveTreeHugger December 28, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Actually, they were. My fiance and I were there with clippers to do what we could, and saw evidence of small chainsaws clearing paths. One can argue if we should have even been doing as much in a preserve. We also collected six large trash bags filled with debris from the storm. Mostly plastic bags and bottles. Those bags remained at the trash pick-up site for weeks after. Before you damn "tree huggers" you should maybe try to understand that some of us actually do care about the land.
Mike January 24, 2013 at 10:26 PM
It looks like only the straightest trees were cut, and in truckable sections, very valuable lumber, maybe for veneer? Someone was looking to make some money.


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