Tree Trouble: Pinecrest residents wake up to find trees chopped down

(WSVN) - Homeowners in one South Florida city are waging a war in their own backyards, trying to keep trees from being chopped down. But are they fighting a losing battle? 7’s Brian Entin has our special assignment report “Tree Trouble.”

This is the noise. These Pinecrest neighbors wake up to chain saws and a barge making its way up and down their canals.

Alex Stone: “I ran outside and I said, ‘What are you doing on my property? You can’t cut these trees. These are my trees!'”

South Florida Water Management crews cutting their way down the seven-mile canal.

Hundreds of backyards are impacted. They say trees too close to the water have got to go.

They’re worried a hurricane could blow them over and clog the waterways.

Alex Stone: “I ran over to the tree, and I plopped right down underneath it, and I said, ‘You can’t cut the tree.'”

Helen Stein: “She literally was a pregnant woman sitting in front of the tree so they wouldn’t cut it down, and they didn’t. But they said they would come back.”

And they did come back. The tree is now gone — along with so many others. Stumps and dirt left behind.

The state says, while this may just look like a canal, it actually protects close to 100,000 people from rising water.

Randy Smith, South Florida Water Management: “You would have extreme flooding if you weren’t able to operate this flood control system.”

South Florida Water Management says they are able to cut down trees within 20 feet of the shoreline. But we’ve learned, in this area, some exceptions have been made.

Brian Entin: “You could have lost this big tree right here?”

Colin D’Arcy: “I could have.”

Brian Entin: “And you fought for it?”

Colin D’Arcy: “I did.”

Brian Entin: “And you won?”

Colin D’Arcy: “I won.”

This neighbor saved his one lychee tree. The others are gone.

Colin D’Arcy: “After 36 years living on this property, no one has ever come to say, ‘We are going to be doing this.'”

But the land that borders South Florida canals is owned by the state, and the tree cutting is the price of staying above water.

They say tree limbs blocked canals after Hurricane Andrew, causing widespread flooding.

Randy Smith: “We’re trying to work the ones we deem to be in the worst shape.”

Alex Stone: “Without the trees, there is nothing in the yard.”

And this could be only the beginning…

South Florida Water Management says the tree cutting happens across South Florida, and they’re planning to do more. They do promise to send a warning letter before the saws show up.

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