Contractors for the George Washington Memorial Parkway of the National Park Service have been cutting trees along the parkway in the past few months, which has aroused concerns among many people. GWMP officials say that they are removing trees that present a public hazard.
Several people were alarmed when in February Bartlett Tree Experts Company conducted tree removal, cutting and chipping activity near an active bald eagle nest near the Parkway and Spout Run, apparently on NPS property.
One individual reported, “On Saturday 2/4/2017, I was again watching the Eagles nest. Contractors were conducting tree clearing and chipper shredding along the parkway.” This person said that he called Simone Monteleone and spoke with her on February 8. He reported that on February 11, he “was shocked to find the contractors directly below the nest with bucket trucks, chain saws and chipper shredders. I have pictures of them within 100 ft of the nest. I approached the contractors and a NPS employee and informed them that they were disturbing an active breeding pair of Bald Eagles. The NPS employee told me this was not an active nest and they would proceed. When I asked for his name he turned and walked away.”
ASNV contacted NPS/GWMP and urged them to avoid impacting the eagles, referencing the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ guidelines for protecting eagle nests, especially during the breeding/nesting season (December 15 to July 15) which includes a protective zone and avoiding the use of motorized vehicles, heavy equipment and loud noise-generating activity, among other activities. Click here to see guidelines for tree cutting near eagles' nests.. The guidelines recommend, for example, that “clearing, external construction and landscaping between 330 feet and 660 feet should be done outside breeding season.”
ASNV also urged that NPS always have a supervisor on site.
Simone Monteleone, from the GWMP, responded: “We have been in contact with a few members of the community regarding the limited hazardous tree removal project that has been occurring at Spout Run. Although we did not consult directly with Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, I did contact USFW directly regarding the activity. Based on the nest's location within the median of an active parkway, this particular activity in an area across multiple lanes of traffic from the median area did not raise concerns about disturbance. The contractor and tree crew work was focused on the west side of the south bound lanes and away from the median where the nest is located.
“We appreciate the concern for the nest as we share those same concerns and the NPS was thrilled to have the eagles return to this area of the parkway after being absent for a number of seasons.
“The limited hazardous tree removal work that was occurring in this general area of the parkway was completed yesterday. The NPS confirmed that the nest was occupied as recently as yesterday afternoon and we will be continuing to monitor the nest this season.
“Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any additional questions.”
Other advocates have urged that NPS have seasonal limitations on this kind of work to avoid impacting breeding and nesting wildlife and to have a tree and plant restoration plan.