City crews to return to site of illegal clear-cut in West Seattle
On Wednesday morning, city crews are expected to return to the site of an illegal clear-cut that prompted outrage in West Seattle.
It was back in January when someone took a chainsaw to about 150 trees on city property off 35th Avenue Southwest.
The work set to start on Wednesday is the next step in the investigation that seeks to determine why the illegal clear-cut was done, how it was done, and who's responsible.
A Seattle Parks and Recreation contractor is expected to start work at the site at about seven a.m. Wednesday. Ahead of that flurry of activity, the City of Seattle is reassuring people who live in the area that those crews will be there legally and with permission from the city.
"They're out there doing official city business," said Council Member Lisa Herbold, who represents West Seattle.
Crews will be using heavy machinery to remove thick blackberry bushes from the area where all of those trees were cut down with a chain saw.
A spokesperson for Seattle Parks and Recreation says that step is necessary to prepare the site for eventual restoration, but it could also reveal additional damage left behind by whoever did this.
Herbold said that's important because it could further increase the fines and penalties that the people responsible could face.
"The giant cutting machine is going to be out there for purposes of determining whether or not there are additional stumps that haven't been identified before," said Herbold. "Because fines and penalties are levied in a way that's commensurate to the number of large trees that have been cut."
The City Attorney's office is leading the investigation into who was behind the illegal clear-cut and has said felony charges are possible.
An attorney representing multiple parties involved has already sent a letter to the city, hoping to make amends. The letter states that the homeowners hired a company to simply top and prune the trees while they were out of town. It says the homeowners were horrified to see the damage when they returned.
The case caused an uproar when it was made public in March. Many were upset because the illegal clear-cut could make the hillside unstable and prone to landslides. They believe the trees were cut down illegally so that someone could improve their view and perhaps their property value.