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Bird advocates want massive tree removal project halted until after nesting season

Posted at 8:35 PM, Apr 08, 2019

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — Erin Murtha-Celii loves photographing birds from her balcony.

She lives in the Sunset Bay community in Tarpon Springs. The area is right on the gulf and rich with birds that nest in the spring and summer. But there are big changes coming to the landscape of their community.

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"The board has already voted unanimously on talking down 227 trees in a six-day period," said Murtha-Celii.

The Homeowners Association president, who didn’t want to be on camera, explained that when the homes were built in 2003 the city hired a contractor to plant trees.

He says the problem is they were the wrong kind of trees and they were planted way too close together. Now, the tree roots are lifting sidewalks, roads and disturbing underground utilities, creating a huge hazard.

Now, every tree marked with an orange ribbon is planned to be cut down. Some of them have song birds that nest in them.

The trees where the owls, osprey and blue herons are nesting are not planned to be cut down. But Kim Begay with the Clearwater Audubon Society says the noise and commotion of the tree removal project and another project to trim the mangroves nearby the will disrupt the baby birds.

"If the chicks are too stressed out by the time the job is done they could literally jump out of the nest," said Begay.

The Audubon Society wants the Sunset Bay Homeowners Association to hold off on tree removal project that is tentatively scheduled for June, until nesting season is over in early October. But the HOA says if they hold off it will cost residents much more. Murtha-Celii wants the HOA to negotiate with the tree trimming company, for the purpose of saving the birds.

"Waiting another five months is not going to really change the impact these trees are going to have," said Murtha-Celii.