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Hatchet-Swinging Vandal Hacks Chunks From Inwood Trees

By Carla Zanoni | March 22, 2012 7:19am

INWOOD — A hatchet-bearing vandal has been hacking chunks out of trees in an Upper Manhattan park, residents said.

Visitors to Isham Park have found at least two trees with deep wounds in their trunks since the beginning of March. 

"It’s horrible to see a tree in this kind of shape," said Inwood resident Katherine Lee, 46, who saw the disfigured honey locust and London plane trees.

"What would make someone do something like that?"

A Parks Department spokesman said they were aware of the attacks.

"Tree vandalism is a serious criminal offense and an assault on our communities," Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said in a statement.

"Trees are a valuable asset, providing shade and oxygen, cleaning the air, and creating homes for wildlife. The Parks Department is committed to protecting our trees.

"We have increased PEP patrols in and around Isham Park and we will continue to work with the NYPD to track down the person or persons responsible for vandalizing these trees."

Tree arborcide is not new to the area, with similar incidents having been reported for years.  

In 2008, someone chopped down 30 young red cedar trees in Inwood Hill Park with an ax. 

And in 2009, 17 tulip, pine, sugar maples and hackberry trees were taken down or damaged in Inwood Hill Park, according to the Manhattan Times

Like the hatchet incident in Isham Park, those incidents took place in early March. 

Another similar incident took place in the Overlook section of Inwood Hill Park in 2006, when someone chopped down 26 red cedar trees, according to the Manhattan Times.

The attacks on the trees come soon after the Parks Department cleared 148 trees from Isham and Inwood Hill parks due to public safety concerns. 

The department has committed to replanting 600 trees throughout the Community Board 12 district to replace those removed — a step that would represent the most trees ever planted in one community board district.