St. Petersburg Times Online: News of southern Pinellas County
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather

printer version

County thins trees, despite complaints

Overgrowth at Lake Seminole Park is being weeded out. The project was delayed once because of citizens' concerns.

© St. Petersburg Times
published September 8, 2002

SEMINOLE -- While all may not be in agreement with cutting down trees at Lake Seminole Park, the project has begun.

Workers began removing pine trees Tuesday and will spend the next six to eight weeks thinning a 100-acre section of the county park. Removing about 40 percent of the trees will improve the forest's overall health, county officials say, explaining that decades of uncontrolled growth have resulted in the trees competing for water, sunlight and nutrients. Also, in the event of a wildfire, the amount of fuel would be reduced.

"The long-range results are going to be very positive," said Debbie Chayet, a horticulturist for the county's park system, as trees fell to the ground Thursday. The downed trees, some diseased or dead, will be sold to a mill for about $20,000.

Chayet says the harvest, the first of its kind in a Pinellas County park, will improve wildlife habitats. It will help manage invasive exotic vegetation such as air potato vines by preparing the area for natural development of species that grow in the understory, or beneath the shade canopy of the flatwood pines.

During the project, a 2-mile nature trail around the forest will be closed. Walkers and joggers are making alternative paths. On Thursday, some hurried through parking lots, around swing sets and across fields.

Park supervisor Fred Stager says trail users also can try paved paths at Walsingham Park on Walsingham Road and Boca Ciega Park on Oakhurst Road.

The project was supposed to begin in May, but county commissioners tabled it after some residents protested the plan. At a commission meeting in May, a handful of people asked the commissioners to kill the project. They also presented a petition with more than 600 signatures.

The commissioners then decided to seek a third-party opinion on the timber harvest from a specialist in urban forestry. Alan Long, an associate professor of forestry at the University of Florida in Gainesville, told commissioners the county was pursuing the right course of action.

"One of the problems of that park is that it's really overgrown," Long told them.

Gail Conroy, one of the project's most vocal critics, is not convinced that timber harvests and prescribed burns are necessary methods of land management. Conroy, a retired accountant who lives in Redington Shores, says nature can take care of itself.

"I think it's total devastation," she said Friday. "I don't get taking the most popular park and destroying it."

Back to St. Petersburg area news
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Special Links
Mary Jo Melone
Howard Troxler

From the Times
South Pinellas desks
  • Plant cleanup to try out cutting-edge treatments
  • Man reports racial slur and threat at restaurant
  • New stumping grounds: once-obscure Lealman
  • Fix road, but not too much, some say
  • Town fires officer as criticism boils over
  • The good and the bad of this year's primary

  • Jeff Webb
  • Don't let the media dilute the message
  • Crossroads movie theater will fall; Home Depot will rise
  • 'Big box' revival
  • Precious lives were born on that terror-filled day
  • Storm dampens visit by Japanese official
  • A family's search for freedom
  • Firefighters union throws support behind incumbent
  • Neighborhoods shape image with new signs
  • County thins trees, despite complaints
  • Beaches notebook
  • Pinellas native to give performance of lifetime
  • Tempers rise after kids dropped off at odd spot
  • Growth of Weed and Seed gains favor in Childs Park
  • EDC okays addition to medical complex
  • House race close, hopefuls claim
  • Eckerd graduate returns as volleyball coach

  • Letters
  • Why can't we leave Albert Whitted as it is?