On the front page of the May 8 paper was a story about a developer (Mr. Richard Harris) who had cut down several large trees and quite a few smaller ones within 25 feet of Duck Creek. Mr. Harris said he wasn't aware he was breaking any rules and that he was opening up some visibility. He also said that he was just doing what the Mendenhall Watershed Partnership had suggested on another section of the stream.
From those statements, it is my feeling that he was well aware of what he was doing and that he was hoping no one would notice, and if so (as they did), he was ready with an excuse. That excuse being that the Mendenhall Watershed Partnership suggested "thinning" to allow more rapid growth of ferns, etc., along the creek. He cut everything down.
I drive by there all the time. Some of those trees were right on the side of the bank, their roots holding the soil back from inundating the stream. All that hard work the Department of Transportation did on that stream could now be compromised. When I looked at the devastation, my first thought was, visibility to what, the old buildings in the back or the highway out front? How did those 100-plus-year-old trees block visibility?
I think it's a clear case of disrespect for the land, creek, fish, trees and the people of Juneau.
I believe that it would be an injustice to Juneau to put this man in jail. He should be given the maximum fine and made to transplant the largest Sitka Spruce trees transplantable back along that stream. He should be made to pay all costs and to be held indefinitely accountable for the health of those trees whether he sells the property or not. The only way we can stop this is to make it extremely expensive.
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