Bristol cuts down dozens of trees near beach

By Scott Pickering
Posted 6/17/21

Many people have noticed the swath of large trees cut down near the Bristol Town Beach and sports complex — it’s hard not to notice — and they’ve speculated as to why anyone …

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Bristol cuts down dozens of trees near beach

Posted

Many people have noticed the swath of large trees cut down near the Bristol Town Beach and sports complex — it’s hard not to notice — and they’ve speculated as to why anyone would fell so many “healthy” shade trees on town property.

The Town of Bristol did the handiwork, but not to a group of healthy trees. They were a diseased, rotting bunch, many of them with hollow trunks and brittle limbs.

The decision was made by Walter Burke — yes, that Walter Burke — the longtime Bristol Recreation Department director who retired several years ago but is back in the same role on a temporary basis. Mr. Burke is working three days a week and filling in for Director Sarah Klein, who is out on a long-term medical leave.

Mr. Burke oversaw the massive renovation of the town’s sports complex about a decade ago, when they removed about 75 trees, planted new ones and reshaped the entire area, creating new fields and facilities. He said the dozens of shade trees cut down a few weeks ago were cut down for safety reasons. He said many of them had rotted cavities, were infested with ants and were a safety risk.

“This was strictly for safety reasons,” he said. “The beach complex has been packed on weekends,” plus the town’s summer camp program will begin in a few weeks, with up to 300 children at the complex daily — “to have dangerous trees hanging overhead is irresponsible,” Mr. Burke said.

All the trees will be replaced, and then some. Mr. Burke said the town will be planting a variety of 12 new trees soon, close to the water, with another 12 planted this fall on the back side of the parking lot. Another wave will be planted next spring and fall as well.

“We’re going to plant more trees than we removed,” Mr. Burke said.

The whole removal and replacement program was approved by the town’s tree warden.

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Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.