City Hall Wants To Start Removing Scherer Park Trees for NLB Police Stn Expansion As Soon As Feb. 21, No Later Than March 1
Plan revealed in papers filed with Court of Appeal
(February 18, 2002) -- In a sworn declaration filed with the Court of Appeal, City Hall's project manager for the NLB police facility expansion at Scherer Park, says she has obtained bids from contractors and believes removal of Scherer Park trees for the NLB police facility expansion "can be accomplished between February 21 (the day the trial court's temporary stay expires) and March 1st," the latter date recommended by an ornithologist retained by City Hall on the project. [General area shown in photo, not necessarily exact trees to be removed.]
Project Manager Amy Bodek's declaration, submitted in opposition to an appeal by S.T.O.P. (Stop Taking Our Parks) and California Earth Corps (seeking to overturn a Superior Court ruling supporting City Hall), also references a sworn declaration by an ornithologist retained by City Hall who recommends the tree removal be conducted prior to March 1st.
We post the pertinent parts of both declarations, below.
In response, and noting City Hall's Scherer Park planned tree removal would take place shortly after several LB officials participated in an ELB tree planting (previously reported by LBReport.com), LB park protection advocate Ann Cantrell emailed LBReport.com:
"I can't believe the hypocrisy! I hope all of these "tree-huggers" show up at Scherer Park on Thursday [Feb. 21] when the City plans to start removing FIFTY-ONE mature trees in order to build the police fortress."
The pertinent portion of Ms. Bodek's declaration follows:
The project will require the removal of up to 45 trees from the site, As a condition of Project approval, for each tree removed, the City must install in the Park one 24-inch box tree and pay into a City fund an amount for the acquisition of two 15-gallon trees, which will be planted in other City parks or public parkways. The City Municipal Code allows the Department of Parks and Recreation the discretion to meet this condition by planting fewer, but larger, trees. Landscape plans for the Project call for 123 trees (24-inch box and 36-inch box) to be planted within the boundaries of the Project, and 28 trees (36-inch box and 48-inch box), including several specimen trees, to be planted in the rest of the Park. Thus, 241 trees will be planted as a result of this Project (123 on site, an additional 28 in the Park, and 90 in other parks or public parkways.) Because the tree removal was not accomplished prior to February 1, 2002, certain biological resource constraints, namely, the restrictions contained in the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act ("MBTA") now arise. The MBTA restricts activities that would result in the removal or destruction of an active bird's nest (a nest with eggs or young being attended to by one or more adults) of a migratory bird. Such an activity would include the removal of a tree supporting an active nest during the bird breeding season, which runs from February 1st through July 31st. The City's consulting ornithologist has recommended removal of the trees prior to March 1st. As outlined in her declaration, as the project move [sic] further into the nesting season, the added mitigation will become more expensive and time consuming.
Based on the City's need to proceed with the Project and delays the City has already faced, I have obtained tree removal bids from landscaping contractors independent from the construction contract for Project. Based upon these estimates, I believe the tree removal can be accomplished between February 21st (the day the trial court's temporary stay expires) and March 1st, the date recommended by the Project ornithologist."
A declaration by Ms. Kathleen M. Keane, City Hall's ornithologist on the Scherer Park project, states in pertinent part:
I am an ornithologist, with over twenty years of experience in the field of ornithology. I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University and a Master of Science degree in Terrestrial Biology from California State University at Long beach, with a special emphasis in ornithology.
I serve as the City's ornithologist on the Scherer Park project...
I have recommended that removal of the trees at Scherer Park, which will occur as part of construction of the Long Beach Police North Station, be conducted prior to March 1st so that the City of Long Beach may avoid violations of the MBTA, as many birds that nest in the City of Long Beach will begin to do so in March and April. After March 1st, the probability of finding active nests in the trees of Scherer Park increases, along with the probability of an MBTA violation should a tree with an active nest be removed or should the nest be otherwise damaged during project construction. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Portland, Oregon can issue permits to authorize violations of the MBTA, but such a permit would include provisions for mitigation additional to that already proposed for the project, resulting in project delays and additional project expense.
...[I]t is my opinion that it is unlikely that the nesting season has actually begun as of this time. I would expect, given the circumstances, that the nesting would begin during early March. Nevertheless, I will be conducting an on-site survey to verify...whether active bird nests are present not more than two days prior to tree removal if it occurs prior to March 1st. However, based upon my opinion, if the tree removal can occur prior to March 1st, the potential for violations of the MBTA will be minimized.