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Supervisor Gerth calls for restitution in tree damage case

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Cut trees off Menhaden Lane
REPORTER FILE PHOTO Cut trees off Menhaden Lane

Officials at the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office have joined the investigation into the destruction of trees on protected property off Menhaden Lane on Shelter Island.

Supervisor Gary Gerth reported the involvement of the District Attorney at the January 30 Town Board work session after meeting with Shelter Island Police Chief Jim Read and Detective Sergeant Jack Thilberg.

The Suffolk County Parks Department called on the District Attorney to become involved in the investigation.

Because it’s an active police investigation, not much is being released about the case.

Dozens of cedar, cherry, locust and other trees were cut, apparently with a chain saw, on land belonging to Suffolk County. The town maintains a right of way on the property.

The damage was initially noticed by resident Jean Lawless while she was walking her dog in the area, who brought it to the Reporter’s attention, and then the Town board

Whatever punishment might be meted out to the person or persons responsible for the tree cutting, Mr. Gerth said he hoped restitution would be made to replace the trees.

Besides the basic destruction of the trees, Ms. Lawless said she’s concerned that the wood simply dropped where it landed after the cutting could become the source of a dangerous fire in dry weather.

Signs in the area clearly state that the land is protected from hunting, fishing, trapping or trespassing and warn that violators would be prosecuted.

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