NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Over the last month crews from Metro Parks have begun the process to remove hundreds of trees from the property, once home to one of the city's largest homeless camps.
Conservationists were outrage by the sudden, dramatic decision to reduce the once thriving wooded area to a barren hillside of unforgiving earth, marked only by tree trunks and wood chips.
"Never in a million years would I dream that our trees in our city parks weren't safe," said Carol Ashworth, a landscape architect who has worked with the city to help preserve trees in the past.
"I'm shocked, I'm heartbroken. These trees belong to every citizen in this city and they belong to all of us and they're gone now," she added.
Metro Parks did not respond for commend about the tree removal on Monday.
In a master plan released in 2014, officials called for some vegetation removal to help manage invasive species but Ashworth believed they went too far.
"Something went wrong. It's an archeological sight so you aren't allowed to dig, you can't penetrate the ground so we can't go back and plant trees here."
Fort Negley was built during the Civil War, it was the largest inland fort built during the war.
Nashville Megan Barry said in a statement:
“Like many, I was disappointed when I saw the initial results of the brush and tree clearing at Fort Negley. However, it is important to remember that this is part of the overall Fort Negley plan approved in 1996 and updated in 2007. The intention is to restore features of the historic Fort, while improving the park as a whole. Metro Parks plans to plant more trees than it had to remove at Fort Negley as part of the master plan for the park and historic site. It’s important to me that we protect our tree canopy and add to it whenever possible, and that’s what will happen at Fort Negley. Clearly, there was a lack of communication of the overall plans to the public and elected officials. Parks Director Tommy Lynch has assured me that going forward there will be greater public notice and input prior to undergoing large and potentially controversial projects such as the one at Fort Negley.”
The Nashville Tree foundation released this statement:
"Like many neighbors, we are concerned about the broad removal of trees and vegetation at Fort Negley. This represents a decrease in environmental benefits to the community, including storm water absorption and improved air quality. While we are researching what exactly happened and how to replace this canopy, we would encourage Metro to coordinate any future projects involving tree canopy with the City’s tree experts at Metro Parks, Public Works, and with the Urban Forester.”