Forest Hills replants storm toppled trees

Photo courtesy Rego-Forest Preservation Council
By Steve Mosco

In each of the last three years, a significant weather event has uprooted numerous trees in Forest Hills and Rego Park, but now one area historian plans to do his part to plant anew.

Michael Perlman, Forest Hills resident and chairman of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council, is a bit of a tree enthusiast. Each spring and fall, Perlman gets involved with the Four Borough Preservation Alliance’s tree giveaway, which provides citywide residents the chance to adopt and plant new trees.

Partnering with MillionTreesNYC and the New York Restoration Project, the alliance’s tree giveaway sprouted into existence after thousands of city trees were uprooted by a September 2010 macroburst, a devastating downburst of air.

And now, following that tornado-causing macroburst, Tropical Storm Irene last year and Hurricane Sandy this year, Perlman said the Forest Hills-Rego Park area needs an infusion of new saplings.

“This is the third natural disaster responsible for the loss of our trees,” said Perlman, adding that Sandy was responsible for the loss of a 100-foot honey locust tree at the Howard Apartments, at 972 66th Road. “It could have been 70 or 80 years old. This monumental green pillar was one of our neighborhood’s most graceful. Now the large lawn bounded by 66th Road and 102nd Street is stark, as if nothing ever existed. Sad.”

According to the city Parks Department, the city received more than 26,000 Hurricane Sandy and nor’easter-related service requests to take care of fallen trees and hanging limbs. More than 11,000 trees were downed or badly damaged along city streets, with more than 6,000 in Queens on the list.

A Parks spokesman said the department has removed 99 percent of the downed trees in the city, but many fallen trees in city parks are generally left to decompose and for use as animal habitat.

“We document the location of all removed trees and, if appropriate, replant in the same area,” said the spokesman, adding that since the 2010 macroburst, Parks, MillionTreesNYC and other partners have planted more than 80,000 new trees in parks and along streets in Queens.

Perlman said the honey locust tree that Hurricane Sandy blew down was an unofficial neighborhood landmark before it came down and flattened a car like a pancake. Perlman also said some maple and oak trees were uprooted in Forest Hills Gardens, and some mature beauties were lost on Saunders Street in Rego Park west of 63rd Drive.

While some of Sandy’s damage remains in view, Perlman said he will gladly join the cause in planting new trees and creating new unofficial landmarks for future generations to admire.

“I am determined to help the Howard Apartments plant new trees on that site in the spring,” he said. “But I won’t consider them a replacement — rather new trees initiating beauty and cleaner air.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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