A popular lake at Brooklyn's Prospect Park has quietly become a dumping ground for thousands of rotted branches, boughs and trunks of diseased and dead trees, according to the New York Post.
A Post reporter touring the 60-acre freshwater lake’s perimeter yesterday saw what seemed to be an endless trail of freshly cut tree debris sunken along its shore at the park’s southern and eastern end.
Park activists Anne-Katrin Titze and Ed Bahlman, who monitor the lake by walking along it at least three times a week, said it began dramatically filling up with tree scraps over the past month as city forestry workers started uprooting and trimming many of dozens of diseased lakeside trees that park advocates told the Post in August were in danger of falling.
“It looks like a disaster area. They came and ripped the trees out as fast as they could without caring if the debris landed in the lake,” said Bahlman, who, along with Titze, witnessed some of the sloppy work firsthand.
Some of the uprooted trees were so hollow from disease that they were previously used by squatters as Keebler Elves-style tree houses.
Paul Nelson, a Prospect Park Alliance spokesman, defended the workers saying the tree debris splashed into the lake “accidently” during the pruning and uprooting process and “wasn’t intentionally dumped.”
He added that removing the pieces could be troublesome because the lake’s floor is muddy and unstable and that the Alliance doesn’t consider this a problem because “having trees in the lake can be good for its ecosystem” by providing shelter and nutrients for fish, frogs and other lake inhabitants.
However, Titze, a state-licensed wildlife rehabilitator, and other environmentalists say too much tree dumping could threaten aquatic life in a lake.
Jim Mahoney of Windsor Terrace, who was fishing lakeside Wednesday, said he wished someone would clean up the mess so his line wouldn't get caught on the debris.
“I’ve been fishing here 30 years, and I have never seen it this bad,” he said.
Much of the lakeside trees’ poor health has been attributed to a longstanding problem of barbecuers illegally dumping coal remnants nearby. Besides covering much of the soil in coal, some picnickers last summer were even barbecuing inside the hallow trunks.