Workers Clear Out Scores of Storm-Ravaged Trees in Prospect Park

Seventy-seven trees and more than a hundred downed limbs were cleaned up in blitz to repair damage from Hurricane Irene, the tornado and a freakish early snow

Dozens of dead and dying trees were cleared out of Prospect Park this week in a massive effort by park workers from across the city.

The six-day tree-clearing event is part of a regular program called a 5x5, where park workers from all five boroughs converge at one park for a week for intensive work.

The event comes just a week after it was reported that , and those trees were cut down as part of this week’s project.

But the 5x5 has been planned for weeks, as a way to finally clean up the massive destruction from a series of unprecedented storms, said Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey during a tour of the park Friday.

Both the September 2010 tornado and  brought down numerous trees in Prospect Park. And the  caused limbs throughout the park to drop in droves due to the weight of the heavy wet flakes on the leaf-covered branches, Jeffrey said.

Prospect Park’s trees are also damaged by disease—and people. In addition to those living in them, people have been , Patch reported in May. 

In August, the New York Post reported that branches from some of the larger dying trees had begun breaking off.

In early January, fallen trees could be seen in several swaths of the park, some on the ground and others held up by neighboring trees. Large limbs littered hillsides and in one patch near Prospect Park Southwest more than a dozen young trees lay uprooted on the ground (see photo in gallery). 

During the week’s work, which ends today, park workers are slated to removed 52 trees that are damaged but still standing and 25 trees that have been uprooted or otherwise fallen down, said Jon Pywell, Brooklyn’s deputy director of forestry during the tour. In addition more than a hundred fallen limbs were removed.

Most of the trees were cut down along the south and west sides of the lake, along Ocean and Flatbush avenues and for a stretch near to Prospect Park Southwest (see map of affected areas in photo gallery).

“A week ago this hillside was just covered in dead branches. There were uprooted trees, downed trees, it was just a mess,” said Pywell, pointing to a slope that runs along Flatbush Avenue that yesterday was only thinly covered in trees. Large swaths of the ground was covered by mulch made from the limbs and trunks workers removed.

Taking a tree down the larger trees can take days, because the tree is cut down in pieces (to avoid having a 50-foot maple free fall to the ground). Yesterday morning, Jeffrey and Pywell stopped to watch as climber pruner Lawrence Schultz was lifted several stories to begin taking down a 45-year-old Norway maple just outside the park on Ocean Avenue near Parkside.

First Schultz tied ropes to a large limb so prevent it from crashing down after being severed. Then he cut the limb with a chainsaw. Next, workers on the ground slowly lowered the limb to the ground where it was feed into a chipper to be converted to mulch for the park (See photo gallery).

“They could accomplish in a week what would normally take much longer,” said Prospect Park Alliance spokesman Paul Nelson as he watched workers lift enormous  logs into hulking orange trunks. In all, more than 500,000 pounds of wood and other tree detritus have been removed from the park (much of it to be returned as mulch).

“It feels like a gift,” Jeffery said of the project. “It’s really terrific.” 

Pamela January 14, 2012 at 10:14 PM
I live on Prospect Park SW, and the treecutters left a total mess behind them.
Parksloper January 14, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Hopefully they will crack down this summer on all the illegally barbeques in the park, it's a disgrace.
Gary Hoopengardner January 15, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Well, only time will tell the benefits to the park. Let's not forget, "it's all about the psrk, Prospect Park". HooP


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