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Police investigate Menhaden tree cutting

JULIE LANE PHOTO Illegally cut trees off Menhaden Lane lead to a Shelter Island Police investigation aided by the Suffolk County Department of Parks.

JULIE LANE PHOTO Illegally cut trees off Menhaden Lane lead to a Shelter Island Police investigation aided by the Suffolk County Department of Parks.

Shelter Island Police have called on the Suffolk County Parks Department to inspect an area off Menhaden Lane where dozens of trees have been cut, apparently with a chain saw.

The town has a right of way on the land but it’s county parkland, according to Public Works Commissioner Jay Card Jr.

Cedar, cherry, locust and other trees have been sliced in half with wood lying on the ground. Resident Jean Lawless, who brought the matter to the Reporter and town officials, fears the cut wood could result in a fire during a dry spell.

Ms. Lawless found the sites while walking her dog in the area and reported the damage.

“It’s criminal,” said Tim Purtell, chairman of the town’s Green Options Advisory Committee. Mr. Purtell, a Reporter nature columnist, is an activist with the environmental groups Friends of Trees and Vinebusters.

“Those trees belong to all of us,” he said.

A sign at the site mentions Shelter Island Town and reads “Private Property — Hunting, fishing, trapping or trespassing for any purpose is strictly forbidden,Violators will be prosecuted.”

But Mr. Card said it would be up to the county to prosecute if someone is charged with the damage to the trees.

Ms. Lawless said after discovering the condition of the trees, she recalled she had seen a large truck in the area, but hadn’t thought anything about its presence at the time.

The police investigation is being led by Shelter Island Detective Sergeant Jack Thilberg.

With police coordinating the investigation, Chief Jim Read said there would be no comment pending any announcement of a prosecution in the case.

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