There are charges pending against a man from the New Haven area for cutting down approximately 150 trees along the east side of the Rotary Riverfront Trail in Washington, according to officials.
Detective Sgt. Steve Sitzes said the police department received a report Feb. 22 from the City of Washington’s Parks and Recreation Department that someone had removed trees from the area.
Sitzes said the original report came from a citizen who witnessed someone cutting down the trees Saturday, Feb. 20 and called the Washington Parks Department. The parks department received the report on Monday and forwarded it to the Washington Police Department.
Investigators were later able to identify a 55-year-old man who is allegedly responsible. The name of the suspect is not being released by officials at this time. The suspect owns a property in Washington and is renovating a home, which is located between the Highway 47 bridge and Washington Avenue, where the incident occurred, Sitzes said.
The pending charges include trespassing and felony property damage, which were submitted by the Washington Police Department to the Franklin County prosecuting attorney, Matt Becker.
There were various types of trees removed including cottonwood, willow and maple trees, according to Sitzes.
In 2007, the city established a line-of-sight agreement with some property owners along the Missouri River. Sitzes said property owners cutting down trees on city or other owned property had been an issue prior to the agreement in 2007.
That agreement has since provided a process for those individuals to have trees removed that are blocking their view of the river. Sitzes said the first step is contacting the city and requesting they be removed.
“The City of Washington will prosecute or assist in the prosecution of anyone found removing trees, brush, shrubs or underbrush from city property, railroad property or any other entity,” Sitzes said.