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Alachua residents concerned about loss of trees

BY HEATHER HANNAFORD

Trees heavy with Spanish moss, making a canopy on a quiet country road, are part of a landscape that is beloved by most North Central Floridians. Neighbors who live along Peggy Road in Alachua are disheartened by the destruction of hundreds of old trees that once lined their country lane, NW 138th Avenue. They are concerned that the character of the neighborhood has changed drastically with the loss of the trees. They also feel discouraged by the loss of wildlife habitats in the area. One neighbor noted seeing a bird sitting on fence looking forlorn and a woodpecker swooping overheard, clearly disoriented. Another neighbor found a lost gopher tortoise and was concerned for its safety. They are also concerned about the environmental consequences of losing so many trees, such as increased rain run-off and dust in the dry season. The neighbors feel that the trees should not have been cut down without any consultation or consideration for the area. 

A local landowner recently decided to clear the large, 50- to 100-year-old trees from his property. It is, of course, his right, as one neighbor noted. The neighbors understand that there isn’t much they can do or say to change the landowner’s mind. The destruction of the trees has already begun.

This aerial view from Google Maps shows the thick line of trees that used to line the northeastern side of NW 138th Avenue, providing a double buffer between the properties on the southwestern side of the road and Interstate I-75:

Residents in the area contacted the City of Alachua, who listened to their concerns with kindness and told them they would look into any actions that could be taken. At the time of this story, the City of Alachua had yet to respond to our request for comment. It may be too late for these lovely old trees, but the neighbors want to alert people to their plight because they believe that the loss of native Florida environments and scenery needs to be addressed. Florida’s unique beauty and wildlife need preservation, and the neighbors feel that each of us can, and should, take small actions to ensure that our area retains its distinctive character.

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