Monday, August 8, 2011

Neglect And Abuse Blamed In Prospect Park Tree Health

Anne-Katrin Titze and Ed Bahlman claim that trees in Prospect Park are falling down from neglect and abuse.
Anne-Katrin Titze and Ed Bahlman claim that trees in Prospect Park are falling down from neglect and abuse. (Photo: William Miller)


It's "Heads up!" in Prospect Park.

Branches, boughs and trunks on dozens of diseased and dead trees along the massive lakeside within Brooklyn's biggest park have been breaking off over the past month, according to park activists, according to the New York Post.

A Post reporter touring the area Thursday saw these massive chunks of rotted wood – along with dozens of others that have fallen the past few years – littering the shoreline and sunken at the lake’s edge. Miraculously, there have been no recent reported injuries.

In the park’s southern and eastern end, some of the largest hallow trunks are being used for storage and shelter by the park’s growing homeless contingent – who have come under fire in recent weeks for poaching pigeons, fish and other wildlife for food. Other snapped pieces of trees serve as lakeside benches for day laborers while they smoke weed and drink booze.

Park activists Anne-Katrin Titze and Ed Bahlman attribute much of the trees’ poor health to a longstanding problem of barbecuers illegally dumping coal remnants lakeside. Besides covering much of the soil in coal, some picnickers this summer have even begun barbecuing inside the hallow trunks.

Titze, a state-licensed wildlife rehabilitator, said she believes "it’s just a matter of time" before other pieces of hallow, diseased trees break off and hurt someone badly.

She said the city must do a better job caring for the park’s 30,000 trees or risk a horrible tragedy similar to last summer at Central Park when a fallen branch struck and killed a baby girl.

Besides the rogue barbecuing, Eugene Patron, a spokesman for the Prospect Park Alliance, attributed much of the tree damage to the recent heat wave and people – "many likely homeless" — "gouging" into them.

The homeless "have been coming to [the park’s southern] area to cook, hang out and hide their belongings in the brush," he said.

However, Patron said city arborists recently investigated the problem areas and believe no trees there "pose any immediate danger to the public."

Although arborists have begun stepping up pruning of damaged trees in recent weeks following complaints, Titze believes saying they "have tree safety under control is a farce."

"They only show up after a large branch or worse has already hit the ground," she said. "They do not address the widespread erosion that has exposed the roots" of problem trees that are in danger of falling.

Read More:

New York Post - August 8, 2011 - By Rich Calder

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