Northeast Queens groups work to replace trees lost to storms

While the city has replaced some trees downed by Irene, other remnants of the storm, like this stump along Douglaston Parkway, have not yet been replaced. Photo by Rich Bockmann
TimesLedger Newspapers
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Since September 2010, Queens has been hit by a tornado, a blizzard and a tropical storm — each of which has taken its toll on the borough’s trees, especially in areas such as parks and the leafy neighborhoods in the northeast.

In Little Neck and Douglaston, neighborhoods that are defined by their towering timbers, groups are working to restore their communities’ verdant character.

The city Parks Department estimates that roughly 3,000 street trees have been lost throughout the city in the past 16 months — a mere drop in the bucket compared to the 126,000-plus trees that have been planted in Queens alone under the MillionTreesNYC initiative since it was announced in 2007.

“That doesn’t sound like a big deal at first, but those 3,000 trees are concentrated in specific areas,” said Walter Mugdan, president of the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee.

Mugdan said the majority of trees that have come down in these events are the largest, most prominent ones around — some of them reaching up to 3 feet in diameter.

“These are big, mature trees. There’s a bigger impact when they fall. You really see the void left by the damage,” he said. “They line the streets and therefore have a lot to do with the character of the community.”

Since 2010 Parks has planted 30,000 reforestation trees in natural areas of parks and 5,000 street trees in Queens. The agency counts another 3,700 trees planted since then by its partners.

The department’s replacement efforts have not kept pace with the number of downed trees, Mugdan said.

“Because city Parks and the [city] forest service have been so overwhelmed, they basically let us know that they weren’t going to be able to get to Udalls Cove Park anytime soon,” he said. “We got a permit from the city and hired our own contractor and had him work on several occasions in the fall of 2010 and the fall of 2011.”

Mugdan estimated the committee has spent between $15,000 and $20,000 to remove fallen trees and clear trails. A small portion of that money was spent to plant about six large trees, he said.

These trees count toward the mayor’s 1 million goal, as do those street trees the department plants. Some are planted automatically as Parks cleans up after a storm while others are planted by request.

George Schmidt, of the Douglas Manor Association, said his neighborhood lost around 150 trees last year and that he was in contact with the forestry service about getting trees planted along the waterfront.

“They’re moving and they’re doing things and we’re hoping this next spring we’ll get a lot of trees replaced by the Parks Department,” he said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 12:00 am, January 15, 2012
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reader feedback

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.


Do you know an immigrant in Queens who has made an impact on the community? Nominate a person who has made a difference for the 2018 Queens Ambassador Awards.
Community News Group

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!