Australian pine stumps lie beside Gulf Drive at Cortez
Beach in Bradenton Beach. The trees were taken down
by Manatee County as it clears the way for the Coquina
Beach Trail, a multi-use path that runs from Fifth
Street South to the Longboat Pass Bridge between the
beach and parking lots. The downing of the trees brought
angry response from people who want to keep them,
even though they are invasive and non-native.
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
Work has begun on the multi-use path,
also known as the Coquina Beach Trail, and the first item
of business is clearing some of the Australian pines that
are in the way.
Some people are unhappy about losing the pines and have
been letting city hall know it.
According to Judy Pruitt at the Building Department, about
10 people called last week to complain. Programs and Projects
Manager Lisa Marie Phillips said some of the callers were
referred to her.
Robin Blackmore lives in England but vacations at his
second home in Bradenton Beach. He was out Thursday watching
as crews took down some of the pines along the parking
area for Cortez Beach. He said it seems to him that the
county is taking down more than the 37 trees Manatee County
Parks and Recreation Project Director Tom Yarger said
a week earlier.
"I talked to one of the men working there and he
said they had marked about 100 trees to be cut down,"
Yarger said that original number of 37 trees went up when
they looked at the plans more closely and saw how many
were in or near the path of the trail.
We marked all the trees that were in the way or
close enough to where their root systems would be damaged
by the trail and it totalled nearly 100, he said.
When we realized it was that many, we adjusted the
path again and pared it down to 66. I dont think
it will go over that.
Former city councilman James Kissick said he recommended
the trees be planted back in the 1970s. He said the county
tried hard to save the southern tip of the Island back
then, when it did not extend much farther south than 13th
Street South. He said the county put large rocks, then
smaller rocks to extend the land mass, but there was severe
erosion. The county finally put in the three groins that
helped hold the beach, but it was still very fragile.
"I recommended they plant the Australian pines because
they had a wide root base that could help build up the
beach," he said. "They did and it worked."
Kissick said he does not mind having the county remove
the pines, as long as they make sure the beach is maintained.
He said he realizes they are not safe.
"Having no tap root, they will blow over at 90 miles
per hour," he said. "If they fall across Gulf
Drive, it will block the escape route for about half the
people on Longboat Key."